Friday, August 31, 2007

In Praise of a Job Well Done and a New Path Begun

During the two years of this blog, His Barking Dog, it has been my custom to observe the church and culture, offering commentary and critique from an Evangelical and Baptist perspective. Today, however, my heart is filled with pride over a more personal reason, namely for my second born, Joshua D. McFadden, Esq.

Just minutes ago Josh received news that he has passed the bar exam on his first attempt and will be admitted to the practice of law in the state of Arkansas. This culminates a nine year pilgrimage through a fine undergraduate program in business at John Brown University, a MBA earned when he returned to JBU after working in Georgia, and a rigorous J.D. program at the University of Arkansas. Josh has joined a fine old firm in Fayetteville with about 15 attorneys, several of which achieved the highest score on the exam the years they took it. He looks forward to being trained as a civil litigator (the "gator" part is the give away; sortof like an alligator with a law license).
Josh possesses a fine mind and a keen analytical intellect. But more importantly, he and his wife, Tabitha (a marketing account exec with her own masters degree), have a strong desire to make a Kingdom difference with their lives. They are both committed to their family (now including young Dylan), to their church, and to their community. Our sin-sick world needs more people like them. We can certainly use their intellectual gifts and professional training. But, more importantly, their character and integrity will commend them in whatever endeavor they put their hands to do.

Soli deo gloria!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Remembering a Lion in Winter

Dr. D. James Kennedy has accomplished more in his 76 years than most mortals. He built a great church, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, from a handful of intial members. He pioneered an approach to evangelism that has borne immense fruit for the kingdom, not just his own niche of Protestant Christianity. His advocacy for orthodoxy has been clear and clarion. His defense of truth against the assaults of non-Christian and pseudo-Christian cults, his affirmation of creation by a sovereign and provident God against all forms of naturalism, and his clear stand on biblical morality have distinguished him as a giant of his generation of evangelicals.

So, it was with much sadness to learn this week that he has agreed to retire from his church after more than 48 years, following an extended illness. Just days after Christmas Eve Kennedy suffered a cardiac arrest and has been unable to return to the pulpit since then.

Thank you Dr. Kennedy for your splendid leadership and evangelical statesmanship. May the Lord richly bless you in the days to come!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Evolution of Intolerance Toward Creation by a Creator

This ought to be interesting . . .

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- It's a movie that Ferris Bueller would take the day off to go see. What freedom-loving student wouldn't beoutraged to discover that his high school science teacher is teaching atheory as indisputable fact, and that university professors unmercifully crush any fellow scientists who dare question the prevailing system of belief? This isn't the latest Hollywood comedy; it's a disturbing new documentary that will shock anyone who thinks all scientists are free tofollow the evidence wherever it may lead.
Produced by Premise Media, Expelled, in theaters February 2008, is being marketed by Motive Entertainment, the company that has spearheaded significant Hollywood blockbusters, including The Passion of the Christ, Polar Express and The Chronicles of Narnia. Rocky Mountain Pictures, an established distribution company, which has enjoyed numerous box-office successes, will distribute the film.
Ben Stein, the lovable, monotone teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Wonder Years is on a journey to answer one of the biggest questions ever asked: Were we designed or are we simply the end result of an ancient mud puddle struck by lightning? Stein, who is also a lawyer, an economist,a former presidential speechwriter, author and social commentator, is stunned by what he finds on his journey. He discovers an elitist scientific establishment that has traded in its skepticism for dogma. But even worse, along the way, Stein uncovers a long line of biologists, astronomers, chemists and philosophers who have had their reputations destroyed and their careers ruined by a scientific establishment that allows absolutely no dissent from Charles Darwin's theory of random mutation and natural selection.
* It should not take a Hollywood film to confirm what many of us know: the bigotry, bias, and intolerance so often attributed to evangelicals more aptly captures the spirit of those in establishment positions in education in America. Regardless of whether you hold to a young-earth, old-earth, or Intelligent Design form of creationism, you will find yourself the object of intense scorn by the intellectual establishment and major media in our country.
* Genesis, particularly in the first eleven chapters, establishes the basis for most of the doctrines developed in the pages of the Bible. Creation, sin, redemption, and the promise of consummation all come within its purview. You go, Ben Stein!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Latest ABC Mission Trends

[Source: Graph Prepared by Mission Resource Dept. of ABCUSA]

I just received the latest numbers from the ABC regarding mission giving trends. The 2004 number of $16.67 million for United Missions Basics is projected to decline to $12.7 million by the end of this year (based on projections by Valley Forge). The total American Baptist Mission Support shows a corresponding decline from $42.89 million in 2004 to a projected $37.19 million in this year, according to figures supplied by the Mission Resource Development office of the ABCUSA in an e-mail dated August 17.
The General Executive Council (GEC) member who forwarded the numbers to me commented: "UM continues to fall. No surprise there. Region Offering and Specifics continues to climb. Again no surprise. So far no one is talking about the reasons behind the disparity. Again, no surprise."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

An Evangelical Giant Graduates to Glory – But Have We Learned the Lessons He Taught?

Among the deaths this summer, one passed almost unnoticed, unfortunately. Harold O.J. Brown was probably the most irenic and humble man ever to hold four degrees from Harvard University. With an A.B. in Germanic Studies and Biochemical Studies, a B.D., Th.M., and Ph.D, Brown certainly had one of the finest educations of any person in his generation. A long-time teacher at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Reformed Theological Seminary, he was also noted for his pioneering work in bio-ethics. Along with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, he founded the Christian Action Council, now Care Net.

My appreciation for Dr. Brown dates to his contributions to Christianity Today which I began devouring as a 15 year old and to his book, Heresies: The Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy from the Apostles to the Present (Doubleday, 1984), which helped inform and orient me theologically during my first solo pastorate. Reading Brown was an exciting adventure as he made the classic battles of orthodoxy and heresy come alive and made them seem crucial to understanding and obeying Jesus Christ in the present.

Brown explained that “heresy” began as nothing more insidious than “party.” Early on, however, it took on the sinister connotation of “a separation or split resulting from a false faith.” As such, “it designated either a doctrine or the party holding the doctrine, a doctrine that was sufficiently intolerable to destroy the unity of the Christian church. In the early church, heresy did not refer to simply any doctrinal disagreement, but to something that seemed to undercut the very basis for Christian existence” (pg. 2).

Brown reminds us:
"The Christian religion has produced more heresies than any other religion, and the heresies it produces are more tenacious than those of any other religion. In fact, it sometimes seems that the most vigorous, committed, and rapidly multiplying Christians in any age are those we like to call heretics. Why is Christianity so productive of divisive opinions, held with great conviction, that lead to splits in the church and charges and countercharges of heresy? The reason is simple: Christianity consists of a message that claims to be absolutely true and that is at the same time deeply and perplexingly mysterious" (pg. 6)

In our heresy-phobic culture of tolerance and accommodation, we might well remember the ancient dictum: “corruption optima pessimum est” (“the corruption of the best is the worst”). For, unless we learn the lessons of distinguishing Truth from Error we may well fulfill the prophetic words of Brown: “It may soon be necessary to say of mainstream Roman Catholic theology that it, like most Protestantism, is neither orthodox nor heretical, but another religion” (p. 446).

Godspeed Dr. Brown. Godspeed! May we learn the lessons you lived and taught.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vacation Delights

One of my readers commented on my hiatus from blogging. It was due to an important board meeting at work and (more importantly) VACATION!

* Last weekend 12 or the 14 of us were together at our eldest son's house in Minooka (IL). Our newlyweds from Joplin were away on their honeymoon. But that still left two sons, two daughters, two daughter-in-laws, one son-in-law, and three grandsons to celebrate my 54th birthday together. Highlights included attending church and hearing our eldest son do his regular Saturday evening sermon, enjoying the world famous Giordano deep-dish pizza at the equally well-known restaurant on Rush street (adorned with the names of Chicago notables such as Belushi, Caray, Hillary, Farley, etc.), and checking out the fabulous Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

* On Monday we traveled to the Cincinnati area to visit the brand new Creation Museum created by Answers in Genesis. I will blog on this later, but WOW! More high-tech than Disneyland, this may be the most comprehensive and sustained argument for presuppositional apologetics anywhere.

* A quick trip to Fort Wayne permitted us to see our daughter and son-in-law's new place as he takes on an inner city youth ministry role and she begins teaching Bible at a large Christian school.

* And, with our eldest and his wife at a Willow Creek leadership conference, my wife and I had the privilege of babysitting our two eldest grandsons Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Yippee! Living in California so far from Ilinois, this was our first chance to play the "take care of the grandkids while the parents are away for several days" grandparent role. What a special privilege!!!

* Now, home at 10:30 p.m. last night, vacation wrapped up today with teaching Sunday school and preaching an ordination sermon (Isaiah 6:1-8). Tomorrow I return to my day job.

Does life get any better?