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Posts Tagged ‘John Robbins’

Foreign Policy_Syria2

Before and after in Aleppo.

The great law of morality ought to have a national as well as a personal and individual application. We should act toward other nations as we wish them to act toward us.

– Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the United States , 1850 State of the Union Address

Back during the 2012 Presidential campaign, I wrote a post critical of an article by Uri Friedman, who showed his utter disdain for candidate Ron Paul by accusing him of invoking the Millard Fillmore doctrine, which as the quote above indicates, is the application of the Golden Rule to foreign policy. Fillmore, notes Friedman, was “undistinguished” and “uninspiring” and self-evidently not worthy of emulation in any respect. Friedman goes on to write that Paul was both booed an laughed at when he presented his version of the “Golden Rule” approach to foreign policy on the campaign trail.

It is absurd to think that the Golden Rule has anything whatsoever to do with foreign policy, so opines Friedman. And not only is it wrong to suggest that it does, but it’s actually laughable. This we know because Millard Fillmore believed the Golden Rule was the standard for a proper policy and it’s just obvious that Millard Fillmore was a dunce, a boob and a fool. What is more, so are all those, such as Ron Paul, who follow him. That’s the sum of Friedman’s argument, who, as one writing in Foreign Policy, the house organ of the Council on Foreign Relations, could be said to be echoing the views of the American foreign policy establishment.

Perhaps if the accomplishments of America’s foreign policy establishment – dating back to the Spanish American War at the end of the 19th century, America’s leaders have rejected the nation’s original foreign policy of staying out of foreign wars in favor of a policy of interventionism – were more impressive, it would make sense to give ear to Friedman’s snarky dismissal of Fillmore and Paul. But after more than a century of foreign wars that seem only to set the stage for the next conflict, perhaps it’s worth asking just how much the sages at the Council on Foreign Relations actually know about foreign policy. It seems the this author that the answer is, not very much at all.

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John RobbinsThe following sermon was preached by John Robbins at Reformation Chapel in Unicoi Tennessee. Last week I featured part one of this sermon.  Today, I present part two. To read part one, please click here. The transcription is my own.

– Steve Matthews

Well, Luke continues in verse five,

Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how he spoke to you while he was still in Galilee.’

Well, these women are terrified. These men suddenly appear, and the women are terrified. Luke says they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth. And the angels speak to them and say, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

This reminds you of the opening chapter of Acts, where Luke is telling about the apostles watching Jesus being assumed into heaven. And two men again appear, maybe the same two angels, and speak to the apostles, and they say, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here staring up into heaven?” They ask them a question again. And here the angels ask the women, “Why do you seek the living among the dead. And then they tell them, “He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke to you.” And this makes it clear about the important of words. See, we’re told in the first chapter of John that the Word preceded the visible creation, that everything that was created was preceded by the Word. The Word comes first, the Logos comes first. And many people get everything backwards, they think events, or history, or creation come first, rather than the Word.

But notice here no one witnesses the resurrection event. And what the women receive are words from the angels. They’re told specifically, “He is not here. He is risen. He is living. He’s not among the dead.” And then the angels remind them of Jesus’ own words that he spoke while he was still with him. Their faith rests on the testimony of Jesus and the testimony of the angels. The women did not see the resurrection event, but they received these words from Christ and from the angels.

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John Robbins

John W. Robbins

The following sermon was preached by John Robbins at Reformation Chapel in Unicoi Tennessee. Please click here to read part two.  The transcription is my own.

-Steve Matthews

And now Luke moves on in his narrative to the resurrection. Then he begins by saying it happened on the first day of the week. And there’s a Jewish idiom here, it’s the first of the Sabbaths. And it’s a phrase that appears in the Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1 and Luke 24:1, it’s called the first day of the Sabbaths or the first of the Sabbaths. From now on this will be the important day. This is what John calls the Lord’s Day. This is why we meet on Sunday and not on Saturday, because this has taken on the characteristics of the most important day of the week. This is the day that Jesus rises from the dead.

“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning,” Luke says, “they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb brining the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.” Christ had dies on the sixth day of the week, on Friday, he was in paradise that day and the entire next day, and then early in the morning on the first day of the week he rises from the dead.

Luke says these women, and they’re named in the previous chapter, they go very early in the morning. John says in John 20 verse 1 that they leave when it is still dark, yet dark. And some people have, again, tried to make contradictions in the Bible by saying the various evangelists say well it was at dawn, and John says it was while it was still dark, and another Gospel says it was when the sun was rising. Well, these women had to travel. And they left when it was still dark and when they got there the sun had risen. And it’s very easy. If people would just think about what’s going on in these narratives, all these so-called contradictions and problems would disappear. The women can’t transport themselves like they do on Star Trek from one place to another instantaneously. It takes a while for them to travel, to get together, to pack up their spices and to arrive at the tomb. And so you would expect a variation between the time they leave to the time they arrive there. Which is what the four narratives say.

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For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.

Romans 1:20

John Robbins

If you’ve ever read a book or heard a lecture on Christian apologetics, there’s a good chance Romans 1:19-20 were brought up. Perhaps these verses were cited as proof that all men know God, so that no one could claim ignorance of God on judgment day. That, of course, is true. Responsibility is based on knowledge, and since God has revealed himself to all men, all men are accountable to him.

Bible commentators, as well as the authors of the Westminster Confession, have identified two ways in which God reveals himself to men: general revelation and special revelation.

Special revelation is identical with the 66 books of the Bible. The Scriptures are God’s written, propositional revelation, which principally teach us, “What man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man,” in the words of the Shorter Catechism.

But what about general revelation? Just what is it that is meant by this term? The most common answer is that general revelation is identical with nature. We are told that when men look to the heavens and see the stars, or cast their eyes upon the majestic mountains they behold God’s attributes and, to that extent, know him and are therefore rightfully held responsible by him, even if they have never so much as heard the name of Jesus Christ.

Here’s one example of this line of reasoning.

Paul stresses the reality and universality of divine revelation, which is perpetual (“since the creation,” v.20) and perspicuous (“clearly seen,” v.20). Divine invisibility, eternity, and power are all expressed in and through the created order…The invisible God is revealed through the visible medium of creation. This revelation is manifest; it is not obscured but clearly seen (New Geneva Study Bible).

The commentators manifestly argue that one can reason from visible creation to an invisible God, but does this really make sense? On one hand, such an argument is appealing to Christians. We believe in God and rightfully want others to share that belief. But simply because we like the conclusion of an argument does not mean that it is a good argument. This is the case even if the conclusion of argument – that there is an immortal, invisible all wise God who created and sustains the world – is true.

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Ruth_and_Naomi_Leave_Moab

Ruth and Naomi Leave Moab, 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872).

When I began writing this series of posts on immigration in September 2016, my original plan was for five to seven posts and to wrap things up by early 2017. Obviously, the series grew well beyond these plans, and I find myself nearly a year and a half later sitting down to bring the work to a close.

At this point, it may be worth asking and answering the questions 1) Why I started this series in the first place, and 2) Why did it grow in length far beyond my original intent?

There are two reasons I chose to write on the topic of immigration. In the first place, it’s important, for the effects of a nation’s immigration policy cannot be reversed easily if at all.

Most other political decisions can be reversed. For example, the US passed the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcohol. This amendment went into effect in 1920 and was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933.

Immigration, on the other hand, is forever. Once immigrants are welcomed into the national family, there’s no going back. Their acceptance permanently alters the makeup of a nation. For this reason alone, it is important for legislators and citizen both to have a clear idea in mind about what constitutes proper immigration policy.

Second, for all the ink that has been spilt on the subject, I have yet to read a fully satisfactory treatment of immigration. In Immigration, Citizenship and the Bible (ICB) I review immigration commentary from across the political and religious spectrum, including secular and religious right and left. I have reviewed the works of proponents of mass, taxpayer subsidized immigration and the works of immigration restrictionists. None of the writers I have read get it right for the simple reason that none of them begin their thinking with the Scriptures.

Some writers do use Scripture when formulating their ideas about immigration, but either apply it inconsistently or misunderstand what the Bible has to say on the topic.

And because I was dissatisfied with the work that has been done up until now that I decided that what is needed is a Scripturalist take on immigration. That is, I wanted to approach immigration systematically as someone who believes the Bible has a monopoly on truth, not as someone who seeks to combine the truths of Scripture on immigration with “truths” discovered elsewhere.

Concerning the second question, Why did this series grow much larger than I had originally intended?, the answer lies in the fact that immigration is a large topic and more space was needed than I thought at first.

Apart from immigration – immigration is the act of someone coming to a new country for the purpose of taking up permanent residence – there are two other major related subject: migration and refugee resettlement.

Migration – more specifically, international migration – is the is simply the temporary movement of people from one country to another. Migrants do not intend to settle permanently, but come for various reasons, for example seasonal economic opportunity.

Refugee resettlement involves the accommodation of people fleeing their native countries. A refugee is defined as someone who, “Demonstrates that they (sic) were (sic) persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group” (USCIS).

Both migration and refugee resettlement issues are closely related to, but separate from, immigration proper. And because of the close relationship all three topics have to on another, to discuss one generally involves at some point discussing the others. This was a major reason for the growth of this series beyond the original five to seven posts that I originally thought would be the case.

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2018

As once again we find ourselves at the end of one year and the start of another, I would like to thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to serve him and his church through this blog.

In March 2018, I will celebrate nine years in the blogosphere, and that’s a pretty long time in blog years. That raises an interesting question, So just what is the average lifespan of a blog anyway? Well, as is often the case, it depends on whom you ask.

According to one post, most blogs die after 100 days. Yikes! That makes Lux Lucet something like 1000 in human years! Another post puts the average blog lifespan at 33 months. Whatever the actual average number is, it appears that this space has continued to be active well past the time when most blogs have become internet history.

And that’s a credit, not to the skill or to the perseverance of the blogger, but God who has graciously provided the opportunity, the desire, the knowledge, the wisdom and the strength to continue.

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