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The Eccentric Echidna

Creation Without Compromise

For the last few years I’ve been privileged to live in Tasmania, Australia’s smallest and arguably most beautiful state. One of the wonderful things about Tasmania is the opportunity to regularly encounter unique wildlife. We have some of the most interesting creatures in the world and with many of them, you don’t have to travel far to meet them.

For example, I take a daily walk which brings me through a nearby bushland reserve.  During the warmer months, I frequently encounter the oddly fascinating echidna.  I’ll be walking along and an echidna will be foraging for food in the dirt at the side of the track.  If I walk up slowly from behind, usually I won’t be noticed.  But if I am noticed, the echidna doesn’t scurry away like most creatures might.  Instead, it freezes in place, tucks its head down and hopes for the best. 

If you’ve never…

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Ten Most-Read Posts of 2020

As we get to the end of another year, let me share with you the ten most-read posts here on Yinkahdinay in the past 12 months. Interestingly, only two of them were actually written in 2020.

10. Luther: Baptizatus sum (I am baptized)

This post relates a famous story about Luther and baptism and briefly touches on the connection between the sacrament and faith. Did Luther get it right?

9. Challenges Facing the Canadian Reformed Churches

I wrote this in 2015 while I was in my last days as a CanRC pastor. For some reason it popped up in this year’s top ten list. I’m not sure how applicable it still is after 5+ years.

8. Pastoral Q & A: The Morning After Pill

How should a Christian regard this “emergency contraceptive”? Apparently a few people are wondering.

7. Isaiah Reveals a Message No One Will Believe: A Good Friday Sermon on Isaiah 53:1-3

Over the years I’ve posted a few sermons, but most of them don’t get much of a read. I don’t know why this one has in the year gone by. Maybe it’s the opening lines about the picture of Jesus on the pizza.

6. Praying Together: No Laughing Matter

This is one of the two posts that were actually written in 2020. It’s about a vital practice for young couples not yet married.

5. The ESV Study Bible vs. The Reformation Study Bible: A Comparison

These two study Bibles are extremely popular amongst Reformed folk. Here I sort out the pros and cons of each and help you determine which might be best suited for you.

4. Can a Christian Eat Black Pudding?

Man, I love me some black pudding. However, there are Christians who argue that it’s unlawful for us to eat it. Here I interact with that view — and also give you my favourite BP recipe.

3. Tetelestai — It is Finished

This is the last word that Jesus uttered on the cross. It gets more attention around Good Friday, but people actually look it up year round. In this post I especially interact with a popular (but erroneous) idea about what this word means.

2. Five Ways You’re Probably Not a Calvinist

The other post actually written in 2020. You may call yourself a Calvinist, but you’ve probably got some points of departure from the Genevan Reformer.

1. What’s Wrong with Hillsong?

There are a lot of people asking questions about Hillsong. Because I care about the gospel, I wrote this to try and give some direction.

And with that, I’m taking my summer vacation beginning next week and so I’ll be taking my usual break from blogging. Hope to see you here again in February!

Traitors or Loyal Subjects?

Imagine for a moment a powerful yet wise and good king ruling over his vast kingdom.  Years ago, there was a rebellion in the kingdom.  Subjects of the king revolted against his rule.  They continued to live in his kingdom, but they refused to acknowledge his rightful authority.  When these rebels had children, they trained them to likewise reject the king.   Eventually, the king took action to address the rebellion.  Rather than immediately punish all his defiant subjects, he graciously offered them the gift of pardon and forgiveness, if only they would only return to acknowledge him as rightful king.  Some of the subjects did.  They turned from being traitors to being loyal subjects of the king. 

This is broadly analogous to the way things are in this world.  God is that good and wise king.  Human beings have rebelled against his rule, irrationally acted as traitors.  Yet in the gospel, God has offered pardon and forgiveness.  He calls for faith in Jesus Christ, a turn from sin, and a return to acknowledging his kingship.  By his grace, some do.  Many others, however, don’t.  They continue to traitorously rebel against the wise and good King.    

This analogy highlights a key feature of a biblical worldview:  there is no neutrality among human beings.  Humanity divides into two black and white categories.  There are traitors and there are loyal subjects of the King.

This contrast is found throughout the Bible.  For example, Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  Loyal subjects are with Jesus Christ, on his side doing the work of gathering.  Traitors are against him, scattering as they go.  Similarly, in Matthew 25, Jesus speaks of the final judgment in terms of a separation between sheep and goats.  The sheep have been loyal subjects of the King, treating his brothers in a kind and compassionate way.  The goats have been traitors, acting selfishly in rebellion against the Lord.  There is, indeed, no neutrality among human beings.  Ever. 

This part of a biblical worldview has massive practical consequences.  Let me just briefly touch on two important areas.

Apologetics has to do with our defence and promotion of the Christian faith.  The biblical teaching about the impossibility of neutrality has to be taken into account.  The way we do that is by acknowledging what God says:  the unbeliever we’re speaking with is not neutral.  If he doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ and acknowledge God as king, he’s a rebel and a traitor in God’s kingdom.  You can’t pretend otherwise.  You can’t be silent about it.  Because you, as a Christian, are a loyal subject of the King you stand up for his crown rights.  Because you were previously a traitor yourself, but have experienced the pardon and forgiveness of this good King, you want the unbeliever to come to the same experience.  Therefore, in your apologetics, you have to speak about the reality of rebellion against the King.  You have to call the traitor to give up his treason.

For at least the past 200 years, Reformed believers have insisted that the Bible’s teaching on neutrality has a huge bearing on education.  Regardless of the type of school, the teachers are either traitors or loyal subjects of the King.  In their education, in the place of the parent (in loco parentis), they are going to train children to be either traitors or loyal subjects of the King.  This extends into educational philosophy as well.  A school is going to be guided by a philosophy that is either in rebellion against the King, or showing loyal submission to the King.  There is no neutrality in educational philosophy.  This is why, historically, we have argued for the necessity of Christian education.  Because there is no neutrality, we aim to have our children educated in a way that honours the King and seeks to create more loyal subjects for the King.

Every generation needs to be reminded of this biblical worldview cornerstone.  Why?  Because even as loyal subjects, even as Christians, we still have some of the rebel left in us.  That rebellious remnant tends to make us drift.  It tends to make us blur the lines and see neutrality where there is none.  When that happens and we don’t even see unbelief as an affront to the King anymore, we ourselves have been lured back to treason.  That would be tragic.

Book Review: Understanding Scientific Theories of Origins (Part 5 — Final)

The final installment of my (lengthy) review of this important book making the case for theistic evolution.

Creation Without Compromise

See here for Part 1, here for Part 2, here for Part 3, and here for Part 4.

The Extent of the Flood

As already mentioned, USTO disparages a “Bible-first” approach.  Instead, the Bible has to be understood, not only on its own terms, but also in terms of what God is revealing in the “second book” of scientific evidence.  Not surprisingly, this leads USTO to reject the notion of a global flood in the days of Noah.  They grant that the Bible describes some cataclysmic event of massive proportions; however USTO insists that it was not global.  Moreover, “the event is described with a specific theological and literary goal in mind” (241).  It is not meant to provide us with a “hydro-geological” explanation.

Once again we are presented with a false dilemma:  a global flood versus a “specific theological and literary goal.”  This dilemma is false…

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Book Review: Understanding Scientific Theories of Origins (Part 3)

Continuing my way through this hugely problematic tome….

Creation Without Compromise

See here for Part 1, and see here for Part 2.

God, Evolution, and Death

Any model of origins which incorporates the idea of macro-evolutionary history over billions of years is going to have to involve death.  USTO discusses death in numerous places, oftentimes in a positive way.  One of these discussions is early in the second chapter.

USTO aims to maintain the sovereignty of God over creation.  However, it quickly turns out that, because of his love, God has actually relinquished control over his creation:

Parents practice freeing love toward their children when giving them relative freedom to develop and grow.  Similarly, God in freeing love gives creation relative freedom to develop and grow into what it is called in the Son and enabled by the Spirit to be.  God’s covenantal faithfulness to nature is what makes its relative freedom as a gift possible (20).

It ought…

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