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I do sermon series much like Richard DeRuiter. It took about thrity weeks to get through the book of 1 Thessalonians. I heard no complaints and people were appreciattve to go in depth through a book. I did a series in Ruth that took eight weeks. I always preach in series and each sermon is expository. I did a ten week sermon series on prayer, each on a different passage. This long series was received well.  For our evening services this year I took topic suggestions from the congregation. This has gone very well also.

It is interesting that Mark Driscoll, in a church that targets 20s-30s group, many single, preaches expository sermons one hour in length. It took two years to go through the book of Luke this way. I am not sure if he is still in it.

If people are hungry and thristy for the word then expository preaching lexio continua style seems to still capture many people's attention.

Perhaps the sermon series length is more of our fear than the congregation's fear.

I appreciate you sharing this. A smaller church needs a pastor to love them. A church that is dying still needs a shepherd. It takes someone of courage and great leadership skills to take a call to such a church for the glory of God. I would hope that churches looking for a pastor would see the amazing leadership and pastoral skills needed to be a pastor of such churches. We have to stop making things so "man-centered." I fear some search committees are about glory be to man.

Can one can do all right leadership stuff and the church can still close?

--the pastor can preach the Gospel every Sunday

--the pastor can show how the Gospel every week changes your life and addresses what you are going through

--the pastor can make changes at the council level so the council actually talks about ministry rather than status quo.

--the church can do Gospel-centered outreach in the community

--the church can do music with quality

--you can do your best to contextualize the Gospel like explained in Center Church by Tim Keller

I am convinced the church can STILL close down. We can't always blame the culture, but the culture is hostile. Read the book How (Not) to be Secular by James Smith. The deck is stacked against the church, and our culture's worldview is more at odds with a biblical worldview than ever. 

Maybe the church has shot itself in the foot over and over again—it would be extremely hard for even the most gifted of pastors entering into that situation. 

Its not the pastor’s fault or simply lack of leadership skills. Its not even the quality of the preaching all the time. 

I hope pastors stop guilting themselves and find the their righteousness is in Christ. What those pastors did for Christ will last for all eternity.


Here are what I see to be the most disturbing trends:

1. redefinition of the Gospel to be more of a social Gospel along the line of classical liberalism as see in some writings of the leaders of the Emergent Church movement. 

2. removal of God's wrath from the atonement. Substitutionary atonement is divine child abuse. Jesus suffered our wrath to become an example of how to overcome human violence. 

3. universalism replacing the doctrine of limited atonement.

4. there seems to be not enough preaching that fits this description stated by John Piper: " a sermon is is an expository exultation over the glories of God revealed in his word.”

5. the loss of the authority of God's Word. The Bible has become a collection of stories about God which become authoritative as the Spirit applies it. Karl Barth's view seems to have gotten a hold in churches.

6. loss of Christian identity. It is said we are all "broken people now." What about "new creations?" With the loss of Christian identity comes the loss of concepts of mortification and vivification.

When pastors or churches adopt these disturbing trends they do so in the name of being relevant to our culture. However it is these very things that make Christianity irrelevant because its no longer Christianity. No wonder why people are leaving our denomination or others.


Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Darwin, Hegel, Marx, Modernism, Kuhn, Scientific Revolutions...


Darwin's theories on evolution fit in with the dominant philosphy of his time.

Hegel's philosphy of the dialectic says society is moving towards greater and greater levels.

Hegel was highly influential on Marx. The social revolution of Marx is part of the dialectic.

Modernism was at its highest point at this time. There was great optimism about the human race.

Enter Darwin. evolution fits this philosophy. Evolution is another dialectic pattern. The human race wtih all of its great achievements is the crown of creation, and we can only get better...

We must keep in mind that this is not so much science based on pure obectivity--Darwin's empirical observations about the nature of nature (metaphysics) and the nature of humanity were rooted in his preusuppostions. His worldview was shaped byh the dominatn philosophy of the time.

When Christians say evolution might be ok, then they should realize they are borrowing from a "modern" worldview, chiefily a Hegelian worldview rather than a biblical worldview.

I would rather base my convictions on a Biblical worldview.

Enter world war I. Then World War II. Hegel's optimism was shattered. Postmodernmism begins to develop. The human race is seen in all of its ugliness.

Thomas Kuhn writes a book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, arguing that all science is rooted in a person's worldview. (He doens't use the term worldview, if I remember my reading correctly). Scientific theories are slow to be changed or proven wrong because each scientific age has a set of convictoins why which one operates on. If you operate on different convictions and challenge a current theory you are deemed heretical in the scientific world. In other words, your world view or set of presuppostions determines how you look at the scientific data. Therefore science is always changing based upon the world view.

Given the history of philosphy and the history of scientific thought, why would we Christians base our beliefs about Genesis on something that is in perpetual flux? Why would we lean so heavily on ideas that arose out of a false worldview? Of course not evey worldview has it wrong. Van Til and Bahnsen show us how there is some truth in every worldview.

I fear that this allowing of the evolution view point is another way our denomination is becoming more like the world. We of a Reformed background with the greats like Abraham Kuyper should very well understand the importance of a distinct Biblical worldview rather than always trying to accomodate to the secular worldview of our age.

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Mr. Black, Mr. Grey, Schleirermacher, Derrida, worldviews...


young earth evidence certainly makes it possible for a young earth.

Evolution evidence certainly proposes the possibility of a very old earth.

As long as you look at science both views will be possible. And I fear if it is just science vs science we will get nowhwere in the debate. I twill be like Mr. Grey and Mr. Black talking to each other (see Van til, The Defense of the Faith). I appreciate young earth  evidence because it gives evidence to the view I support. . But neither side can prove with absolute certainty. I wish evolution supporting people and young earth supporting people will acknowledge what Thomas Kuhn has said, we interpret scientific data based on our worldview. Evolution supporting people in my experience tend to be arrogant making it seem like science is the end all and be all. If we are like Mr. Grey and Mr. Black we get nowhere.

A better approach is to look at the worldviews behind each positoin. This is a presuppositional approach. Do seminaries no longer teach Van Til for apologetics? Do seminaries not make their studetns read Thomas Kuhn?

The Worldview of a "Christian" evolutionist

1. limited effects of sin upon human reasoning. We can rightly and accurately make scientific claims apart from the special revelation and having our eyes opened by Jesus Christ.

2. if science contradicts scripture then science trumps scripture. God's Word is no longer authoritative, infallible, inerrant, and so forth. Science is God's infallbile book or rather our empirical observational abilities is Goid's infallible book.

3. The bible is not clear. Rather we have to deconstruct or peel away the layers of cultural rhetoric to get to what the Bible really means. I hear ehcoes from Scleirermacher and Derrida. Philosphers of the past still live today.

4. view of God: God is limited to working in scientific systems. No room ultimately for miracles.


The World View of a six day creationist or young earth

1. sin greatly affects human reasoning. We can only correclty interpret science through the Word of God. We need renewal of the mind that only comes through Christ as he peels away our scales. Secualr scientists do make correct claims, but only in so far as they operate under common grace or they borrow from a Christian worldview even though they do not know they are borrowing.

2. God's Word is the ultimate authority because God's word is authoritative, inerrant, infallible. God cannot lie. We can make mistakes in interpreting science and even in interpreting scripture. Yet we can rightly know creation and the Bible.

3. The Bible is clear. It was written in historical settings and so forth, but there is a perpescuity that does not lead to the extreme of deconstruction.

4. God can do miracles. Science cannot explain miracles such as Lazarous being raised form the dead or Christ's resurrection or the tongues of fire and so forth.



science vs science will get us nowhere. We are better off fighting against worldviews.

Now you have to ask yourself, like Van Til would ask: can the "Christian" evolutionist worldview sustain itself?

I would say no. Because ultimately it does not leave room for God to save us through Jesus who was fully man and fully God. And this does not offer an adequate solution to the problem of evil and our need for salvation. For the very possiblitiy of a "Christian" evolutionary worldview, it has to borrow from the young earth worldview, as it still wants ot maintain some notin Biblical authority and historicity of Jesus Christ.

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

This is my last post on this. I have said everything I could to philosophically defend the "traditional" view.

I do not have time for spell check either. I write in haste so I can get other work done.


I am not sure how evolution is more proven and understandable than gravity. Under "normal" circumstances every time you throw an object up in the air it falls at 9.8 m/s/s. Every time. I am not aware of any "natural laws" that we can measure happening right now in the area of evolution.

However, if you want to insist on evidence, there is plenty of other evidence that shows that evolution can' thappen and the earth is young. One of these authors is Micheael J. Behe has a book called Darwin's Black Box. Also, I remember in seminary we had a guy from a university talk about the inadequies of evidence for evolution.

for every scientist that that cites evidence for evolution there is another scientist that can cite evidence against evolutoin and young earth. There are some brave ones who risk being ostracized andgo against the popular trends in the scientific community. I am thankful for any sacrifice they make. they go against the trend to stand for what they beleive in the truth.

I am convinced that evolution is not the way to go for the following reasons

1. Thomas Kuhn has shown that science is always changing. And any change usually comes at great sacrifice because the scientific community often persecutes those who go against it, even when the established community is wrong. this may be happening right now as there are scientists challenging the established norm of evolution.

2. Science then is not based on pure empirical evidence. All evidence is filtered through a worldview. Your worldview determines your conclusions. That is why scientists can find evidence for both positions.

3. the worldview of an evolutionist and even Christian evolutionist does not square away with a world view formed by sound exegesis of the Bible. As shown above the evolutionist worldview cannot support itself.

4. so why would you change the so called traditional understanding of the Bible's view on creation  just because  science filtered through a faulty worldview says so?

thanks for sharing your personal blog. I am disturbed how you have bought into a secular world view. You write, "They would rather appease the members that think evolution is evilution and who haven't moved beyond the bronze age. They would rather tiptoe around knuckle-draggers than take advantage of our increased knowledge to better understand our place in the universe."

So apparently a presupposition (or heart commitment) you hold is that the latest scientific evidence and what is accepted at large by the community is the way to interpret all of reality, even the Bible. If that is a presupposition of your then you must know that this is a statement you TAKE ON FAITH!!! This belief of yours is no more or less faith based than the view that God created the world in six 24 hr days. This often gets scientists riled up: their views are based on dogma just as much as any religion.

There is no way for you to substantiate that your interpretation of science is correct. David Hume has proven that a long time ago. All you can do is say this is the evidence and it is excpeted by community, therefore it is likely true. that is the best you can say: evolutoin is likely true. And Thomas Kuhn also has shown that the scientific is always changing. what starts off as persecution often turns into acceptance by the whole community. Therefore something as highly theoretical as evolution can only be hypothosized that it is likely true. I wish the scientific community would acknowledge this more.

Similarly, the evidence that shows a young earth or no evolution is evidence that only shows it is likely true.

Therefore, highly theoretical areas of science can only show something is likely or possibly true.

Would you base your view of creation on something that is only possibly true?

Would you say that anybody who goes against the prevailing scientific commmunity is in the bronze age when they can only say it is possibly true?

why do evolutionists get all riled up over something that is only possibly true? Is it because they don't want to be persecuted?

There is absolutely nothing compelling about current science to lead me to accept evolution. There is nothing compelling in science to alter the traditional understanding of Genesis. As for me, I think the more solid ground is to stand on a Biblical worldview. General revelation should always be interpreted in light of God's Word. It is Jesus Christ who opens our eyes to see the world for what it really is. Let's look at the world through the lense of scripture rather than vice versa.

Thanks your comments Chad. There are several overtures coming to synod that make similar points. I am glad this voice is getting to synod not by one church but by a few classes.

I agree that this is one fo the most if not the most defining moments in our denomination has faced in decades. This is issue is far more crucial than even the Belhar. The consequences that could be unleashed if the CoO are very unsettling.

1. we lose our identity as reformed

2. anybody can teach any doctrine. Just as a situation was created the new FoS in 1816 where any view point could exist side by side, so any view point can be tolerated under the CoO. Under the CoO we have to conform our teaching to the three forms but the three forms are not doctrinal standards only merely historic expressions, so the CoO can basically be ignored. A couple of the overtures to Synod make this point. we need some statement that says something like "fully agree with God's word."

3. the Belhar can be more easily accepted. I am nervous about the Belhar being a doctrinal standard. But under the CoO there really is no doctrinal standard.

4. tendency for leaders to even more doctrinally and historically ignorant.

5. encourages preaching that is not well founded on the word. Many people already expect quaint, pithy, moralistic self-help sermons with any hint of gospel sucked out. Anything doctrinal or that has doctrinal roots tends to be viewed as irrelevant. The CoO contributes to these kinds of problems rather than solves them.

George writes, "Though the document speaks of “being formed and governed” by the three forms of unity, and “conforming our preaching, teaching, writing, serving and living to them,” a few overtures want some of the familiar language of the old Form instead. Hopefully synod will recognize that this new language addresses those concerns. This new document will serve the church well."

This "new" language does not address those concerns. The overtures written to Synod prove that this language does not address the cocnerns. That is why the overtures were written. George's comment does not address the issues the overtures presented.

Steve Van Noort on May 21, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Acutally, you can be formed by them and not defend them.

Think about the history of Reformed church in the Netherlands in 1816. The new FoS contained ambiguous language so that anyone is bound to the confessions in so far as they agree with the Word of God rather than because they argree.

So you could say that the clergy of the Reformed Church in the Nethrlands in 1816 promised to be governed by them but not defend them because they might think certain parts are not in agreement with God's Word.


Rob then is correct when he mentions the problem of the word "defend" not being in there.


And this is the problem of the CoO. One promises to defend and teach documents that are not deemed as fully agreeing with God's Word. This means that if someone think an article does not agree then they do not have to defend it.

great comments Rob. I greatly appreciate your passion for a confessional foundatoin for churches.


I have a question for you. Where do you see that the CO allows for people to be 3 point calvinsts and things like that?

to me, the language of "fully agree with God's Word" takes care of that. Jim seems to find a loop hole in that only the doctrines agree with God's word but not the articulation of those doctrines. However, an articulation of a doctrine is a doctrine, isn't it?

I hope this makes sense. I am trying to be concise. very concise.

Bev, you raise some good questions. And I have learned a lot from the discussions.

You ask where in Calvin's Institutes does he talk about cessationism. I have found his remarks on this subject in his commentaries. Read his commentaries on 1 Cor 12-14 (prophecy and tongues) and James 5 (healing). I just read it on James 5 a few weeks ago in preparation for a sermon.

Also, the idea that cessationism teaches God doesn't speak to us any more today is a misunderstanding. This position teaches God does speak to us today in his living Word. What was written in the Bible many years ago still applies to us today. Through the preaching of the Word explained and applied to us God speaks.

The topic is confessions in this thread. And this does relate to the confessions. Those who are more Charismatic, i could use some help more in understanding how you look at our confessions in light of the Charismatic teachings.

For example, Belgic Confession 5 says that only the book recognized as canonical can be used for the regulating, founding, and establishing our faith. And Belgic Confession 7 says that the Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely.

So if our confessions keep us within boundaries as we have been discussing, how can a Charismatic view of "prophecy" fit within our confessional basis? doesn't the Charistmatic view of God speaking in individual situations through dreams, visions, internal thoughts or whatnot, contradict BC 7? Why do we need "other ways" of speaking if his will is perfectly contained in the Bible?

I am curious to learn more about the position I have not had much interaction with. So thanks for discussing.

The case will certainly have to be strong to convince synod that the committee followed mandate given last year. I find little difference between the two versions.

The First CO and the now updated one are essentially the same. Without the phrase "fully agree with God's Word" the statement to "conform" our preaching to them means little. In fact, without the phrase "fully agree" why even have the CO?

What ends up happening is that we find ourselves in the same place as our Dutch forebears did in 1816 when the FoS was changed to read something like "in so far as" the confessions agree with God's Word.

If the HC, BC, and CD do not fully agree with God's Word, then we will only conform our preaching and teaching to them in so far as we think they agree with God's Word.

In the Netherlands after the FoS was changed, people started teaching things contrary to scripture. Arminian theology stood side by side with Calvinism....and there are many more historical examples. This kind of thing will likely happen in the CRC if the CO is adopted. Has your revision committee taken this history into account? Maybe you have. Maybe you want to steer us in the direction the church did a couple hundred years ago. I am sure you are aware too, that Abraham Kuyper led a movement away from this trend. We trace our history to the doleantie.

Are we not seeing a repeat of Gresham Machen’s battle? It seems like it from posts I have read from many pastor’s blogs such as John Suk.

When I signed the FoS, I was proud. It was a moment where I felt connected with our great heritage and with Godly people who have gone before us. It made me proud I was part of this denomination. It gave me courage to teach and defend the Gospel.

I agree with Chad, the FoS is not broken. What is broken is our church compromising the truth. Chad's warnings ring true.

Kevin De Young makes an excellent point in his book Why We Love the Church: “My observation is that as people grow tired of hearing about the atonement, salvation, the cross, and the afterlife, they grow tired of the church. Because the more that sin and redemption recede into the background…the more the church becomes just one among several options for making a difference in the world” (page 51).

The FoS and our strong confessional heritage is what helps us stay in the Word and thus enables us to be relevant to this world. Without the FoS and being a confessional  church, we lose our relevance.

James Dekker writes, "They recommended a few change in diction without seriously changing the tone or content of the proposed Covenant."

How can you call the addition of "fully agree with God's Word" and "defend" a few changes in diction? It changed the whole document!

 The first two versions of the CO essentially destroyed any notion of having doctrinal standards. The advisory committee saved the day. We still have doctrinal standards because of the work of the advisory committee.

The reason why the vote was unanimous is because of the changes the advisory committee made.

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