Introducing the SharperIron Reader Survey

By the end of January 2010, SharperIron will have been on the Web for a full five years. Those years have seen quite a bit of change. At SI, members have come and gone, the moderating team has changed and one owner/publisher has passed the baton to another. And SharperIron’s context has changed as well. Fundamentalism’s self perception has shifted, the Internet has continued to morph. Blogging has passed out of the “amazing new phenomenon” phase and social networking is now familiar to all. We can only assume that SI’s readers have changed in various ways as well. But we have no idea how they’ve changed. 

This survey can partly solve that problem. We didn’t know a great deal about who SI’s readers were and what they thought in the early days, so we lack a baseline. But if participation is robust, we will be able to get a much clearer picture of who reads SharperIron now and what they value most and least about it.

Please take the time to complete the survey.  You’ll note that the survey is divided into three sections. The first gathers some demographic information. The second focuses on evaluating reader’s use of, and opinions about, SharperIron. The third polls for views on some issues. A few of the questions in parts one and two are required in order to turn the survey in. The rest are optional, but we’d like to see as many complete surveys as possible. Read more about Introducing the SharperIron Reader Survey

Review - You Are the Treasure That I Seek

Image of You Are the Treasure That I Seek...: But There's a Lot of Cool Stuff Out There, Lord
by Greg Dutcher
Discovery House Publishers 2009
Paperback 140

You Are the Treasure That I Seek…: But There’s a Lot of Cool Stuff Out There, Lord

Paperback, 140 pages
Discovery House Publishers, 2009
ISBN 10: 1572933097

It all started with an e-mail I received one day—“See the latest deals on our new line of laptops!” With just one click of the mouse I was transported to the website of one of the leading computer retailers. The minutes quickly ticked by as I sat there dreaming of owning a more powerful machine, pondering any way that I could afford it, and contemplating the reason I would give my wife for such a “necessary” upgrade. What started as mere curiosity soon led to a disturbing amount of discontentment with the perfectly good computer I already had. Without even realizing it my heart had turned that advertisement into a full blown idol.

Greg Dutcher’s You Are the Treasure That I Seek serves to awaken us to the sobering reality that idolatry is very much alive and well in American Christianity, and indeed in our own hearts. “Idolatry is an old-fashioned word, consigned to social studies classes and Clive Cussler novels. But what if it’s alive and well, even in America? What if it’s a problem of such epidemic proportions that our unawareness of it is only making it worse?” (p. 16). Dutcher warns that to the extent that we have relegated idolatry to the jungles of Africa we have been deceived and have had our concept of idolatry shaped more by Indiana Jones than by Jesus and Paul. Written on more of a popular level, the book is a fairly quick read, although the subject matter and format (including a study guide with application questions at the end of each chapter) lend to a more thoughtful study of the book.

In the opening chapter of his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul tells us that “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Rom 1:21–23). Dutcher identifies the essence of idolatry in that one little word in verse twenty-three—exchanged. He writes,

Humanity’s illness is the idolatry syndrome. We were infected when our first parents considered a piece of fruit sweeter than fellowship with God. We were ruined when they deemed the word of a snake better than the promise of ‘a God who cannot lie’ (Titus 1:2). They compared. They calculated. They traded in God for a ‘better model.’ We’ve been doomed ever since. (p. 30)

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Your Reactions are Showing

My Dad used to always order his eggs “over easy”—a little fragile, potentially gooey, requiring extra care to keep them intact. I think we can have days like this, too…ones when we need to be handled a little more gently or things might get messy. These “Over Easy” posts are for those days when you might need something on the lighter, “sunny side” of things. —Diane

We have a very observant two-year-old. She has verbal skills exceeding that of her brother and sister at her age. We have had some very close fellowship these past few days, as the other children have been at camp (for an excruciating two weeks, but that’s another post) and my husband is returning from his cross-country excursion (ditto). I am able to focus more attention on Kate, and I am seeing the impression that we have all made on her, good and not-so.

The other day I was singing in the car as we drove into town. Kate kept demanding, “Mommy, stop!” Now, it shouldn’t ruffle my feathers that my little sweetheart feels the need to critique my vocalization. At the risk of sounding narcissistic, folks actually request for me to sing at church sometimes. And they don’t even bring compost to throw. But repeated requests to “put a lid on it” from a toddler, well… I finally gave in and stopped. Whatever joy I was receiving from making my joyful noise was being drowned out by the peanut gallery. A few seconds later I heard her chirp, in a sing-songy voice, “Good girl!” I had stopped. It was the behavior she desired. She was commending me! Because it made me laugh, she now uses the phrase several times a day, but always appropriately. When she gets a little older we’ll talk about Who makes her a “good girl”—not her obedience to commands, not even her most sterling behavior, but a Person. Read more about Your Reactions are Showing

Lessons from the Thanksgiving Pilgrims

There is no question about it—Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, bar none.

The mere word warms my heart and causes my mind to click through the memories of Novembers long past. It conjures up images of family and dear friends—some now departed— gathered around a bountiful table; of special services at church and shortened weeks of school; of singing grand old hymns which we re-learn usually just once every year; and, most importantly, of giving thanks to God for bringing us safely through another season of life.

Thanksgiving is almost the only holiday which has yet to be hi-jacked by secular or commercial forces. Think of it—the closest that retailers get to this celebration is speaking of the day which follows it, or perhaps dressing in supposed 17th century garb to film silly commercials.

Thanksgiving has also not really been corrupted by worldliness. Few seem to talk about getting drunk for Thanksgiving Day or staying out all night beforehand.

Somehow Thanksgiving—both the day and the action—seems to have a calming effect within our souls. Celebrating it helps us draw a mental line between the cares of the old year and the onset of the new one, while preparing us to remember the birth of Christ in the meantime. Read more about Lessons from the Thanksgiving Pilgrims

An Interview with Dr. John C. Whitcomb

On Saturday, November 21, I attended what is something of a rarity these days—a prophecy conference. Dr. John Whitcomb spoke from the book of Daniel, focusing on the prophetic visions of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel himself. I was there because I wanted to interview Dr. Whitcomb and the conference location was just a few hours from where I live. So the event itself wasn’t the main draw. Like many these days, my attitude toward a prophecy conference tilted noticeably in the “been there, done that” direction.

But I’m delighted to have been there for the conference and to have the opportunity to commend Dr. Whitcomb’s ministry. Even if you are firmly committed to a non-dispensational approach to Scripture or non-premillennial eschatology, I strongly recommend that you go out of your way to hear Dr. Whitcomb speak from the book of Daniel. If you do, you’ll probably discover for yourself what I did. Read more about An Interview with Dr. John C. Whitcomb

Proto-Fundamentalism, Part 2

NickOfTime

Premillennialism

The connection between Fundamentalism and premillennialism has become a commonplace of Fundamentalist historiography. Ernest R. Sandeen’s book, The Roots of Fundamentalism, is sub-titled British and American Millenarianism, 1800-1930. Timothy P. Weber writes extensively about the relationship between Fundamentalism and premillennial eschatology in Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming. To suggest that premillennialism has strongly influenced Fundamentalism is nothing new.1

To suggest that Fundamentalism and premillennialism were one and the same, however, is far too simplistic. T. T. Shields, pastor of Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto, was one of the most visible Fundamentalists of his day, but his eschatology was strongly amillennial and anti-dispensational. The most prominent of the Presbyterian Fundamentalists was J. Gresham Machen. While Machen argued for a form of “eschatological liberty” that would permit premillennial views in his Presbyterian Church of America, he himself rejected premillennialism and emphatically opposed dispensationalism.

Shields and Machen were widely acknowledged as leaders by their Fundamentalist contemporaries. Even a rather populist Baptist such as David Otis Fuller could look to Machen as a model, as his correspondence reveals. If premillennialism is a sine qua non of Fundamentalism, it becomes difficult to explain the prominence of these leaders.

Nevertheless, premillennialism was such a powerful influence among Fundamentalists that the two can be difficult to disentangle. Granting that some within Fundamentalism did not accept premillennial eschatology, the fact remains that even they were forced to respond to premillennialism. Harry Hamilton, first president of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, once complained of Shields’s tendency to “rave against the Scofield Bible.” Machen saw his fledgling church run into deep controversy over the issue of premillennialism.

Evidently, one can be a Fundamentalist without being premillennial. Equally evidently, no one can explain Fundamentalism without taking premillennialism into account. Even those who rejected the eschatology often imbibed its spirit.

The proto-fundamentalist period runs roughly from 1870 to 1920. The period opened with the vast majority of American Christians holding a postmillennial or an amillennial view. By the end of the period, however, premillennialism had become by far the most important eschatology within American evangelicalism. Read more about Proto-Fundamentalism, Part 2

Q & A With Dr. Warren VanHetloo

Compiled from Dr. Warren VanHetloo’s “Cogitations” October 13-21, 2009.

Question

Dr. Van, In looking at the history of the Bible as we know it today, there seems to have frequently been a distrust of the laity to handle (understand) the Word of God. Obviously, only the more wealthy people were able to provide enough education so they could read or teach their children to read. But beyond that, religious leaders seemed reluctant to open the door to the common person to use the Bible in a way to gain understanding about God’s Ways. We look back and say that there were issues of power, politics, etc. But even today in Bible believing churches, you can hear home study groups described as “shared ignorance.” Not too many decades ago, home Bible study groups were publicly discouraged, often from the pulpit. It is almost as if there is fear among the Bible believing pastors that the dangers far outweigh the benefits (or at least threaten their authority). Small groups have become a bit of fad recently, but to deny their potential in spiritual growth, in spite of some risk, seems to underestimate the ability of the Holy Spirit to work through the Word in the hearts of people. What is your evaluation?

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Who Is Our "Intelligent Designer?" Part 13 (Conclusion)

This is the 13th and final installment of this series. See parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10, and 11 & 12.

After his ministry in Athens, Paul journeyed west and south to Corinth, where he spent 18 months (Acts 18:1-11). Notoriously immoral, this city was also obsessed with the “wisdom” of the Greeks, though the Athenians would probably have viewed them as being on a lower level than themselves in this respect.

Now let us see Paul’s strategy in reaching people for Christ in this city. Did he confront the Corinthians with spectacular and undeniable “design” arguments to win them to the Savior? No.

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:1-5, KJV).

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