What I Read Online – 09/21/2011 (a.m.)

    • So if you want pluripotent stem cells, embryos are the easiest way to get them. Of course, it is also the unethical way to get them, because you end up killing a human being. So people who are concerned about ethics have been trying to find another way to get pluripotent stem cells. Back in 2007, three separate research groups found a way to take an adult skin cell and reprogram it to become pluripotent again.2 While those three groups (and others) have shown that such cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells, can develop into many different types of cells, one important question remains: Are they truly as pluripotent as embryonic stem cells?
    • They found that the embryonic stem cells and the induced pluripotent stem cells are at least 99% the same when it comes to the proteins they produce!3 In fact, in some measurements, they found that one embryonic stem cell produced proteins that were more similar to one of the induced pluripotent stem cells than another embryonic stem cell. As a result, it seems that from a protein standpoint, there is very little difference between embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells.
    • You follow the pattern set forth in the New Testament
    • You have a greater opportunity to use your spiritual gifts
    • You become a more committed part of a spiritual family.
    • You ensure a balanced Christian life
    • You avail yourself of the wisdom of a multitude of counselors
    • You experience the joy of serving others
    • In other words, they each imply a realist view of evangelicalism; I am increasingly a nominalist in my approach.  Evangelicalism, at least as a doctrinal movement as opposed to a network of institutions, does not possess any real existence beyond the imaginations of those who have a vested interest in the idea.
    • For a church to be `confessional’ means for it to adhere to a particular confession or set of confessional documents.
    • This is where I have become somewhat less enamoured of the term `confessional evangelical.’  The term `confessional’ is really an ecclesiastical category.  It usually means something only in an ecclesiastical context.   To connect it to evangelical is not unacceptable – as I noted at the start, I have done it myself – but it is to use the term in a basically equivocal way.  When I use the term `confessional’ relative to churches, I mean confessional documents connected to procedural canons; when I use it to refer to `evangelicalism’ I clearly do not imply the second point.   Indeed, for a church to be `confessional,’ it has to discipline or expel office bearers who contradict the confessional standards to which their vows bind them.   Not to do so would be to make the term `confessional’ essentially meaningless. 
    • It is helpful in the current climate in that it seems to refer to those whose personal beliefs are consonant with those of one or more of the great confessions of the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries; but it is of very limited usefulness.  It is vulnerable to the same difficulties as the term `evangelical’: when one abstracts it from the particulars of ecclesiastical commitment, one actually shatters its doctrinal content because that content is inextricably connected to both the doctrinal confession and the ecclesiastical order of particular churches.  Thus, to use the term `confessional’ for individual believers outside of a specific church context where confessions are upheld by disciplinary procedures is to use the term equivocally and, arguably, in an inappropriate manner.  One cannot be a `confessional evangelical’ unless one is in a confessional church; and then one is a confessional Presbyterian, or Reformed, or Anglican or Baptist or Anabaptist.  One is not part of a broader self-conscious movement called `confessional evangelicalism.’
    • What is interesting is that we are often more willing to talk about the gospel than we are about Jesus. The gospel is not a formula to stop me getting angry with my kids,  the gospel is an announcement of news regarding the incarnate son of God.
    • Again we see neither a shrinking from polemics nor any relish in it. Indeed, Alexander and Gillespie indicated that anyone who enjoys theological controversy, who makes it their main purpose and who feels virtuous as they do it, is in a bad spiritual state.
    • “You can make mincemeat of the liberals and still be in trouble in your own soul.”
    • Polemics is medicine, not food. Without medicine we will surely die—we can’t live without it. This is why polemical theology must be a required part of every theological curriculum. Yet we cannot live on medicine. If you engage in polemics with relish and joy—if polemics takes up a significant percentage or even a majority of your time and energy—it is like trying to live on medicine alone. It won’t work for the church or for you.
    • I fear that we are in a period in which many in the Christian church are dividing into extreme positions over the very conduct of polemics. On the one side there are seemingly more people than ever, especially through the internet, engaging in polemics, and yet it looks to me like there is a large number of younger Christians leaders who are reacting to this as if polemics is a pure evil. We want “conversation,” never argument or apologetics.
    • In the same way, with biblical and theological “knowledge” come the intellectual bullies who seem to know so much and imagine themselves to be so knowledgeable. But Paul is saying that they may be only imagining that they are knowledgeable, because if they really knew, they would use their knowledge not to weaken others but to strengthen them. Not to tear them down but to build people up. That’s what love does.
    • Kennedy’s support of her husband and desire to make her home a haven of rest for him is a picture of what God intended when he created men and women. But it’s a blurry picture—faded in black and white, not clear enough for us to see all of what God created.
    • In all of this discussion about whether Jackie Kennedy’s marriage was antiquated and unrealistic for today’s society, something profound is missing: the gospel. When Paul tells Titus to have the older women train the younger women in how to conduct themselves in the family, it was not so they could have a perfect, well-mannered, orderly home. It wasn’t so people would look in and praise them for their devotion to their husbands. It wasn’t so the outlying community would marvel at how submissive they were. Instead, Paul tells Titus it is so God will get the glory, and people will see him as infinitely valuable (Titus 2:5). Biblical womanhood is not getting all your opinions from your husband and only speaking when spoken to. Yes, we have opinions. Yes, we offer them. But when the decision time comes, God gets glory when we graciously submit to the leadership of our husbands, even when our opinion might be different. That’s a very different rendering of womanhood than the one presented by Kennedy.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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