Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sabbath in Seattle? Don't Travel on Sunday... For the Earth's Sake

Ah the false religion of environmentalism. It not only has penance/monetary indulgences (carbon credits), restrictive dietary laws (organic only thank you), a fiery apocalypse (global warming), and works-based righteousness ("look at me, I bike to work"), it now is test-driving strict Sabbath observance of sorts:

As part of his ongoing effort to get people out of their cars and green up Seattle, Mayor Greg Nickels on Wednesday announced a series of "car-free Sundays" in August and September.

Although the program is starting small, by closing a street in three different neighborhoods on consecutive Sundays, Nickels said the effort could expand next summer if it is successful.

"Neighbors will have three to six hours to experience our streets in a new way and to see how livable a city can be when people drive less," Nickels said. "This is our chance to experiment and to evaluate how these events work for people. And we'll be fighting global warming at the same time."

Bracing for expected criticism, Nickels advised drivers to take it easy.

"It's just for one day, just chill. Get out of the car and walk," he said.

Yikes. While I'd like to see more people easing up on Sundays and spending the day in worship and rest, I don't think Caesar is the guy to enforce it. What's more, shutting down streets to vehicular traffic is overly burdensome on families and individuals, including and especially those traveling to and from the house of the Lord.

That said, Christians in the Emerald City and everywhere really can consider practical ways to show care for the environment, not because we "belong to the Earth," but because "the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" and God tasked us with its care.

Perhaps, for example, more of us should consider car pooling with other families from our churches on Sunday mornings.

Even so, the church must always point out that any and all things done by Christians individually or corporately to benefit the environment are ultimately done as worship to a holy God that is coming back in the person of the risen Jesus Christ to judge sinful men and women, and that no amount of environmental do-gooding or any do-gooding can earn or merit salvation from his just wrath against their sin.

As God's people let's do good to all people, and take good faith efforts to steward God's creation. But let's not forget nor forget to preach that this world's greatest need is not greenhouse gas reduction, but the forgiveness of sins which comes to sinners by grace alone through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Acts: God's Sovereignty in Evangelism

So I'm reading through Acts again, and for the first time I'm really picking up on the harmonious interplay with evangelism and the sovereignty of God. Critics of the Doctrines of Grace sovereign (Calvinism, however you want to style it) often argue that such a view of sovereignty and predestination militates against evangelism. That can be the case when the doctrines are dislodged from their biblical moorings, but when rightly understood and put into practice, Calvinism fuels evangelism.

I may blog about this more in depth later, but regardless of whether I do or not, I'd encourage you the next time you read through Acts to pray for the Lord to show you how the early church proclaimed the Gospel and how their understanding of God's sovereignty over all influenced, empowered, and compelled them to action.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hug a Calvinist Day Is Finally Here

Happy International Hug a Calvinist Day!

Read more about it here with my original post from February. And the Facebook page is here.

And I got some blog love from others noting the holiday. Check out Mama Archer here and Paul Quillman at Next Reformation, where gives a bio of the late great Reformer, who, were he alive today would be 399 years old.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Sabbath and Swing Sets

There's an interesting article in the July 5 Financial Times on how on the British Isle of Lewis, Sunday business closings are the rule, not the exception, and how it's a mixed blessing for tourists but a way of life for traditional residents.

While writer Matthew Engel seems to unfairly castigate Presbyterian norms on observing the Christian Sabbath, there is merit to the argument that legalistically governing Sabbatarian observance does more harm than good and takes the emphasis away from God's grace to the comparative self righteousness of strict adherents.

God commands His people to Sabbath, and He commands it as a blessing for His people. The grace of the Sabbath should not be lost in arguments between Christians on how strict or loosely observance should be drawn, and given the propensity within our evil hearts to look down on those who don't observe the Sabbath as we do, we must guard against self righteousness being the source of Sabbath observance.

For instance, it struck me how this warning adorns the gates of children's playgrounds on the Isle:

While the rest of Britain has long forgotten the notion of a sabbath, Lewis has
not. Tesco, which just moved into the capital, Stornoway, has no plans for
Sunday opening; the golf club is closed; the sports centre is closed; children’s
playgrounds carry signs saying “Please Respect the Sabbath”, which is Hebridean
for “Go Away”.


I'd argue taking your children to the playground after church service on a Sunday is not disrespectful of the Sabbath, particularly if the occasion is seen as opportunity to spend time with one's children talking to them about what they learned in Sunday School. After all, Scripture teaches fathers to turn everyday occasions into opportunities to preach the gospel to their kids (Deut. 6:4-9):

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. [2] 5 You
shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your
heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk
of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you
lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on
the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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