Thursday, August 30, 2007

Original Sin

Here's a question that could stir the nest. With all the talk about the scientists trying to produce life artificially I haven't heard this question asked yet. (Of course I haven't gotten through my blog reading yet.) If scientists one day are able to artificially produce a man with no parents, will he be free from original sin?

Was Christ free from sin because he had no biological human father or because He is God?

...or both?

What was the purpose of the virgin birth?

Don't let this cause you to doubt like Mother Theresa. Let it refine your thinking and strengthen your faith.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Discipleship in Venezuela

The Iglasia Bautista Salvacion and her mission churches have a well-developed system of discipleship. There are things they can teach us about how to go about doing church. However, while they are firmly grounded in the gospel, we also bring a wealth of deeper understanding that they lack. On a side note, I'll mention that many churches in the US not only lack a deeper understanding of the scriptures, but also lack an understanding of the gospel as well as an idea of what the Kingdom of Heaven and the Great Commission is all about. Here with our brothers and sisters in Cabimas we offer them teaching to help them grow spiritually as a church even as we learn from their zeal.

This is Hank Dahl teaching the youth of the church.

This is me teaching the adults.

The children were well atended by adults and were quite an active group. One photo doesn't quite do it and this video almost gives an idea.

Over the next few posts I plan to offer the lessons I taught. I will begin with a teaching of the ordinances and develop their meaning into an understanding of the commandments in the fellowship of believers and a special application in marriage.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Photos from Venezuela

As usual, there's more photographs from Venny than I could discuss. Let me introduce some of the people there:

This is Ised. She's the missionary we support who works with Iglasia Bautista Salvacion. She serves as our liaison with the church there and facilitates our trips there. She learned English in a single year fluently enough to serve as a translator when she worked with ITAM.

This is Keny and Adriana. Keny works with the energy industry in Cabimas and Adriana is in medical school. They're not married yet. Adriana is in medical school and is busy ministering in Cabimas when she's not studying. If they marry, it will yet be in a few years.

Darwin is the fellow with the white beard in the center. He's the pastor of Iglasia Bautista Salvacion. His wife is wearing the white shirt and her sister is wearing the blue shirt. Her sister's husband, Antonio, is the pastor of a mission church that just turned two years old, Iglasia Bautista Jehovah Jireth. pastor Darwin's children; Alejandra, Alexandria, Franc and Josue; were all part of the terrific team that we worked with.

Ghandi and Pedro were our bus drivers/owners. Ghandi isn't his real name, but everyone calls him that because he looks like the old Indian sage and because when the bus breaks down, it seems like he just waves his hand over the engine and it starts. His real name is Vincente. Pedro is his son. They came to Christ last year when the drove for our team for the first time. We found out that they had never heard the gospel before so Ised sat down and explained it to them. Once they understood they prayed to accept Christ like it was a "no-brainer".

This is Lesseth. She ministers to a children's cell group at a mission site in Cabimas. She was invaluable to my wife and kids during their stay because she helped watch the kids. Her husband whisked my wife and I away one evening for a secret "date" across town in a restaurant that appeared to have been kept open just for us. It was the first date we had had in 10 weeks and was a complete surprise to me. That's all you're going to hear about it...

This is Robert. He is in the University studying to be an engineer. He has only been a Christian for a couple years now, but is a tireless evangelist and an inspiration to know.

This is how most of us will remember Daniel - ever spinning his notebook. He is a great guy to know and was on the Venezuela team we worked with.

Yelianys (I think I spelled her name correctly) was another who helped out with the Venezuelan team. She, Adriana, Lisseth and some others do the music at Iglasia Bautista Salvacion.

I also dodn't find many pictures of Martin. He's the one standing and smiling. He and Robert often seem to work together in evangelism. They were both in my wife's "conversation club" when she was there. She would teach them English and they would teach her Spanish.

Suje (I don't know if spelled her name correctly) is a friend of Ised's from ITAM who came and helped. That's her son Juan that Ised is holding. There was another friend of Ised's from ITAM who Ised is discipling. She came and helped out often standing in the shadows observing and praying. Consequently, I didn't get any stills of her. She did show up in some clips of the video I took.

This is Adriana's mom. That's what everyone calls her so I don't know her real name. She and Big Jose (Adriana's dad) welcomed my wife and children for the 10 weeks they were there into their home. Along with Ised and Adriana were the last people we saw there in the airport as we passed through the doors through which they could not pass, both with tears in their eyes. Because of how they welcomed us I will always consider them like family. Were it possible, I would have them in my home.

This is Big Jose with my youngest son, Paul. They got along famously.

Here's one fellow I can't fail to mention. He's Little Jose, Adriana's younger brother. Those are my kids splashing about in the rain in the background. Little Jose was quiet much of the time. He often played soccer and Connect Four with my oldest son, Luke. They are about the same age. While I was there, he mostly kept quiet and always seemed to stand ready to do what his dad, Big Jose, told him to do. He would often jump out and open the gate to the house when we arrived or close the gate when we left. He did these things without complaining. I mention this because few notice what he does. I liken him to Christians who quitely obey the Lord and accomplish much without acclaim. In honor of him and them, I offer the largest paragraph of this post.

These are many of the Venezuelans we worked with. There are many more, but there's no way that I could learn them all in only a week. God bless them all and we look forward to seeing them next year.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

The Video of the Venezuela 2007 Mission Trip is Complete!

I've been working diligently to complete this video of the Mission Trip to Venezuela and have finally completed it. I had actually finished it earlier this week, but Adobe Premier crashed and I realized I hadn't saved the entire second half of the video. I was able to rebuild it in short order from an investigation of the rendered workspace files, but even that was painstaking.

There are yet plenty of pictures to follow. Of course, you can always see how my wife and kids spent their summer in Cabimas, Zulia in Venny prior to the arrival of the team.

That's me hugging my wife and 2 out of 3 kids in the airport.
Get a good look, you won't often see American Baptists dancing - er, uh... we'd rather call it "interpretive movement."

You will see many images of us in a poor neighborhood in the second half. The people you see praying in this poor neighborhood were praying their first prayer as new believers in Christ. The local church there will follow up with these people to see to their discipleship and will care for them as best they can until we return next year. By then, perhaps this neighborhood will have an established church body of its own. Right new believers are meeting in the homes of individuals.

The images of the bus being stuck in the first half of the video came from one of our trips to this neighborhood. It's been unseasonably cool (below 100F) and rainy. One of the puddles ended up being a litte deeper than the bus driver thought.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Me? An Action Figure?

Why am I a sucker for these silly things? My 8 year old daughter has three diary's filled with drawings. The only thing she has ever written in any of them is "Daddy is funny."

You scored as Neo, the "One", Neo is the computer hacker-turned-Messiah of the Matrix. He leads a small group of human rebels against the technology that controls them. Neo doubts his ability to lead but doesn't want to disappoint his friends. His goal is for a world where all men know the Truth and are free from the bonds of the Matrix.

Neo, the "One"


Batman, the Dark Knight


The Amazing Spider-Man




Lara Croft


James Bond, Agent 007


William Wallace


The Terminator


El Zorro


Captain Jack Sparrow


Indiana Jones


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

Why Neo? I suppose it's the geeky, computer-hacking, martial arts, reluctant hero aspects of the character that I most closely identify with.

Actually, I had the funnest time trying to analyze the worldview analogy of the Matrix trilogy without going back to the writers' own comments. It's such a mixture of things and the presuppositional foundations aren't very clear. It's not worth my comments here, but the sci-fi action aspects with ground-breaking cinematographic special effects and a unique context for character development made for fun-to-watch movies. As for reality, I wouldn't want to fight with that trench coat on. It may prevent one from broadcasting strikes, but it could be used to bind the movements of the wearer even by an opponent with average skills.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summary of the White/Beckwith Exchange

For those who tire over the exchange between Drs. White and Beckwith, I'll summarize it.

Dr. Beckwith offered that the canonicity of Scripture is a truth that transcends scripture itself and that this is through the consensus of church authorities (Bishops) as they are engaged in confession and penance.

Dr. White observed that the Old Testament was recognized as authoritative by Jews prior to Christ and asked Dr. Beckwith if any doctrine of church consensus could be true since the Bishops at Nicea (where the canon of scripture was officially codified in the Church of Rome) didn't believe as Dr. Beckwith himself believes. His point is that their consensus isn't authoritative.

Dr. Beckwith countered that the doctrines held by the Bishops at Nicea were still being developed. He offered a couple of examples.

Dr. White addressed the flaws in Dr. Beckwith's examples demonstrating a superior understanding of the canons and pointed out that Dr. Beckwith's answer doesn't answer the intent of the question.

Dr. Beckwith reiterated his answer believing that what the Bishops believed in Nicea are merely philosophically less mature versions of what is believed today.

Dr. White pointed out this error by observing that there is no documentation that demonstrates any connection between what the Bishops believed and what the church believes today. He further pointed out examples of things the Bishops believed that Rome does NOT believe today - and connot in any way be supposed to have fostered what they believe today. He concluded by observing that if apostolic succession is important, then it should be a succession of truth rather than persons. The implication is that the RCC has been a succession of persons, but the people have changed the truth over time.

Frank ignored this and instead elaborated on a minor bone of contention where Dr. White had assumed that Dr. Beckwith had never read the Council of Trent until this year based on a statement that Dr. Beckwith had made earlier. He claimed to have read it earlier but had only this year become better acquainted with it. His contention with this is that Dr. White was uncharitably wrong. At this, he begs out of the discussion.

Dr. White pulled further quotes from an interview Dr. Beckwith gave which would indicate that if Dr. Beckwith had read the document before, then he clearly did not understand it until now.

Dr. Beckwith chimed back in with one more point. He had read the Council of Trent earlier when he lacked the training to understand it and only this year read it again with a better trained mind.

My observation of this is that Dr. Beckwith never answered the question. He couldn't. The question itself points out the flaw in the apologetic for apostolic authority in the RCC. The Council of Nicea didn't establish what was in the Christian canon of scripture. They recognized what was already established as the canon of scripture. It was established by truth and recognized as authoritative by the early church, I suggest even as the canon was being written. Furthermore, the odd contention over the reading of the Council of Trent is useless. Dr. White's point is that Dr. Beckwith isn't well studied on the council of Trent. This is certainly evident in the exchange and it's not uncharitable for Dr. White to point it out. In fact, I think it would have been uncharitable for him NOT to have pointed it out. It's something that Dr. Beckwith needs to study more thoroughly before debating its merits effectively.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Beckwith vs. White on the Canonicity of Scripture

I'm still catching up on work and reading after a week in Venezuela. In due time I will have video, photos and accounts. I was skimming through my regular blog reads and found an informative jewel. In the comments of a post on the Stand to Reason blog, Dr. James White debates Frank Beckwith over the canonicity of scripture. For those who don't know, Frank Beckwith resigned his post as the President of the Evangelical Theological Society to return to full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Dr. White is the Director of the Alpha and Omega Ministries and a highly regarded Christian apologist and reformed theologian.

In case you missed the link in the text above, find a couple of hours and grab a pot of coffee for this informative debate.

Edit (8/18/2007):
The comment debate at Stand to Reason devolved into a muddy mess of superfluous ad hominem posts by other commenters. To make the read a little easier, Dr. White distilled the debate on his site filtering for only he and Dr. Beckwith's comments. There are also a number of posts detailing an interview of Dr. Beckwith on Dr. White's radio program.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Back from Venny

The team just flew in from Venezuela today. We had some minor illness this past week, but held out until the end. We might have fed a few people for a day, but we also offered the flesh of Christ that is real food, a spiritual feast that offers not the appearance of life for a season, but true eternal life. We saw people in all situations proclaim a new faith in Christ. The church we go to visit and help out is doing so much to share the gospel with the people in their town that we are humbled by their dedication to our Lord.'s also nice to have my family back together again after all these weeks.

More to come...

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