On Friday I finally finished The Fellowship of the Ring. The first in Tolkien’s excellent trilogy. As soon as the book was concluded, I was eager to see the movie. I once saw the movie a couple of years ago. I was unaware of the joys that come with reading a book and then watching the book come alive on the screen. It certainly adds a great deal to the movie-watching experience. It is remarkable what a director can do in putting together a masterpiece of more than 500 pages into a 3 hour movie. I was struck by the faithfulness of the movie to the book. They seemed to condense the more detailed parts of the book into a 2 minute summary. This, I thought to be extremely helpful since it set the tone for things to come. For instance, right from the start of the Fellowship of the Ring, the viewer receives an excellent background to the origin, source, and fate of the ring. Whereas in the book, we only get these details later on in particular sections where Gandalf is re-telling the story to Frodo. Though I began to read The Two Towers last night, it is doubtful that I will make much progress since seminary starts on Wednesday.
I also finished D.A. Carson’s excellent treatise on the Love of God. It is appropriately entitled: The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. It is based on a series of four lectures delivered by Carson at Dallas Seminary almost a decade ago. The book is unashamedly Calvinistic and faithful to the exegetical task. One of the crucial goals of Carson’s 84-page book was to correct modern misconceptions of the love of God, whether they be exegetical or pop slogans. Carson summarizes the importance of a proper understanding of God’s love when he writes:
I do not think that what the Bible says about the love of God can long survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God–not to mention only a few nonnegotiable elements of basic Christianity. ((Page 11, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God))
Carson ties the love of God with other necessary attributes, thereby, presenting the God of Scriptures, instead of the God of culture. Evangelicalism seems to focus too much attention on God’s love, and there is a certain validity to that, nevertheless, when God’s love is disassociated from His wrath, then God’s love becomes superfluous and human.
The book also focused on important doctrines such as Limited Atonement, which Carson prefers to call, Definite Atonement, since it conveys the idea better. He focused much of the last chapter on the recipients of God’s love. At one time, he even condemned those zealous Calvinists who abuse the text by imposing a meaning on certain words (i.e. world) that is not meant by the text. One clear example is found in John 3:16. Though Carson does not deny limited atonement, nevertheless, he prefers to see God’s love in Christ actually expressed to the whole world and not just the world of the elect as many Calvinist interpret. This is a fairly appealing interpretation, especially in light of the nature of God’s love. Of course, Carson distinguishes the different ways in which God shows His love. God’s redemptive love is very different than His love for the non-elect.
Saturday was a day filled with activities. Early Saturday morning I awoke to drive to downtown Orlando. I have long been interested in abandoning the side-lines of the pro-life debate and actually be an active member of it. Saturday morning was a first step in that direction. I arrived at the Orlando’s Women Center at about 8:10AM. There was no one there at that point and so I circled around the block a few times and when I returned Scott and Patte Smith were already there. This is a remarkable couple. They have been involved in pro-life work for years. They have been at this particular clinic for over 10 years. Their main job is to do counseling at the site. Scott is a man of great convictions and truly committed to this work. As I arrived Patte was already sharing with two young ladies waiting for their appointment. According to Patte’s blog found here an abortion can be somewhat costly. Here is a chart:
16 weeks $900
17 weeks $1150
18 weeks $1400
19 weeks $1850
20 weeks $2050
21 weeks $2300
22 weeks $2500
23 weeks $2700
24 weeks $2900
As I witnessed young girls from all types of society, I was saddened for them and their families. What led them to make such commitments? What was even more grievous was the contradicting message they sent. Some would reply that they were Christians, others had bumper stickers with a Christian radio station, yet others, I was told, had “Choose Life” signs on their vehicles as they quietly walked up the stairs of death and allowed someone to murder their little babies. Though I did not witness any dramatic rescue, some were willing to talk; others were not even willing to look. Perhaps the embarrassment was too much or perhaps they did not want anyone to recognize them or because their guilt was just too much to bear. They go through all this pain and the consequence of years of guilt to please some idiotic man who cares little about them and to please ultimately the evil one who has succeeded once more.
Late Saturday evening I traveled to Palm Harbor, Fl where on Sunday I would minister one last time at Grace Community Church. The church is located on a beautiful land surrounded by greenery that looks more like Scotland than Sunny Florida. I took this picture from my truck. On the back, you can see the church.
I thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks ministering to that small and friendly congregation. The elders were very kind and the people gracious and encouraging to this young seminarian. I continued my study through Joshua 6. The latter part of Joshua 6 focuses among many things, primarily on the rescuing of Rahab and her household. One of my main points is that God rescued the most unlikely of all people and that through His covenant faithfulness He delivers His own and promised to save you and your children. Rahab is a remarkable testimony of grace and love in the Old Covenant revelation. What a weekend!