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Mohler: The Empty Promise of Meditation November 24, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Al Mohler, Blog Spotting.
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Al Mohler has posted some great thoughts on how meditation has been entering the church.

Some quotes from the article:

The Bible does speak positively about meditation.  In the Psalms, David sings of meditating on the Law of God day and night.  The biblical concept of meditation is not without reference to thought and content.  To the contrary, it is about thinking that is directed by the Word of God — scripturally saturated thought.

This is almost the exact opposite of Eastern meditation, which sets the emptying of the mind as its goal.  The Eastern concept of emptying the mind is just not anything close to the biblical vision of filling the mind with the Word of God.

We live in a world so shaped by therapeutic concerns that most people never stop to wonder if God is dealing with them in their stress, their distress, their haunting thoughts, their cluttered minds. An attempt to empty the mind might well be an effort to listen to the self when we should seek to hear from God.

For an example see the February 2008 edition of the ‘Today’ devotional published by the Christian Reformed Church. Ugh.

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Van Til & Berkhof: Foundations of Christian Education November 21, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Book Reviews, Christian Education, Christian Parenting, Cornelius Van Til, Louis Berkhof.
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christian_edThis book is a collection of essays that were delivered as addresses to Christian Educators in the 1930’s. In the introduction Dennis Johnson, the editor, mentions that these essays deal mostly with the ‘why’ and not the ‘how’ of Christian education. I was a little disappointed, but truly that was what I expected. That being said I’m still looking for a good book on the ‘how’ of Christian education in an effort to evaluate Christians schools as a parent. If you know of one please comment. Yet despite this small disappointment regarding what was not found in the book the topics the authors do cover are informative and helpful in discerning the need for Christian education.

Since I have been doing a lot of thinking and research on this subject I hope to do a series of posts on the individual essays in this book. Therefore in this post I will not go into too much detail on the content of the essays.

In the first section two essays lay out the necessity for and uniqueness of the reformed education. Van Til writes on ‘Antithesis in Education’ and Berkhof contributes ‘Being Reformed in Our Attitude Toward the Christian School’. These were probably the most important essays in the collection as they form the foundation for the rest of the book. Johnson comments in the introduction that this was his reason for including them first as opposed to at the end as they appeared in the first edition.

The second section is on the Doctrinal Foundations of Christian Education. Van Til has essays in this section titled ‘Creation: The Education of Man – A Divinely Ordained Need’, ‘Faith: Faith and Our Program’, and ‘Eternal Life: The Full-orbed Life’. The eternal life essay is a great reminder of where our priorities need to be even in education.  Berkhof’s essays cover ‘Covenant: The Covenant of Grace and Its Significance for Christian Education’ (my favorite), and ‘Authority: The Christian School and Authority.

Overall I enjoyed Berkhof’s essays more than Van Til’s. That may be because I’m a bit ‘Van Tiled’ out, after just finishing Bahnsen’s Vantil’s apologetic so Berkhof’s information may have seemed that much fresher. Those familiar with Van Til’s apologetic arguments will find what he says here familiar. This means Van Til’s arguements are tied very closely to his philosopy, which I beleive to be Biblical, but it was helpful to have Berkhof argueing more directly from the text.

This book is unfortunately no longer in print. I obtained by copy on eBay from the seller ‘grape-soda’ who has a good selection of Christian books and provided excellent service. It is a helpful resource to those in favor of Christian education as well as providing many thinking points for those who may be undecided or against the idea.

Ryken: 1 Timothy – Reformed Expository Commentary November 5, 2008

Posted by heldveld in 1 Timothy, Book Reviews, Philip Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary.
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This is the second of the Reformed Expository Commentary series that I have read (see my review of James). As with the first I found this volume to be engaging and insightful. It definitely has deepened my knowledge of 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy is a pastoral epistle written primarily to young pastor Timothy, but Ryken shows from several passages that the letter was intended for the entire church. So even though many of the chapters would find direct application to pastors, elders and deacons all church members can learn for the requirements of these offices. Further 1 Timothy is very practical book making it easy to make direct applications to the Christian life. To this point Ryken’s commentary draws out many important points on subjects such as prayer and money. We are also reminded of or need to care for the poor and our pastors .

While practical application of the Christian faith is predominate the book still instills the beautiful gospel message. Chapter 2 ‘Mercy for the Worst of Sinners’ which covers 1:12-16 is very touching. It is a great assurance to the Christian that God in his love has mercy on the worst of sinners. Although most of us have a hard time seeing the apostle Paul as the chief of sinners his words certain show his understanding of total depravity.  This is truley good news to us all. I have to admit I may have been close to shedding a tear after reading this one. It was that moving.

I Timothy also lays out a good deal of Christian doctrine. First in showing us that salvation in Christ is what should be first and foremost. It also expounds on the proper use of the law through three basic principles; 1 to show sin 2. to restrain evil and 3. to show the Christian way of life.  Perhaps most importantly we are seen that we must hold to the orthodox faith.

“Orthodox Christianity is not to be reinvented, re-envisioned, or reinterpreted; it is to be cherished, guarded, and defended.”

There were a couple of times I did question what the author was saying.  First I’m not sure I agree with is Ryken’s promotion of the office of deaconess. Though I will admit I have not researched the issue deep enough to say definitively ‘I disagree’, my leaning is to disagree. At one point he makes reference to the ‘age of dinosours’ so I’m not sure if he holds to a non-24 hour interpretation of the creation days. Not that crucial to an understanding of I Timothy, but I’ll admit I lean strongly to the 6/24 view.

It is available from Reformation Heritage Books