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THE STAGGERING PARADOX OF THE HYMNS IN THE LUKAN BIRTH NARRATIVE

With The Nunc Dimittis, and the other hymns of the Lukan birth narratives, such as The Magnificat and The Benedictus, "we are confronted with the staggering paradox that He who is the Lord's Anointed (Christos Kyriou) is in truth the Lord Himself (Christos Kyrios). His place and mission in the history of revelation and redemption receive further clarification when His coming is viewed as accomplishing the fulfilment of the covenant established with Abraham, 1:54f, 72f) and as effecting the redemption and salvation of Israel, 1:68; 2:38; 1:69,77; 2:11,20; 1:47)." - Stonehouse

As noted earlier, church discipline is one of the marks of a true church. It is the duty of Christ's bride to purify herself from anything that would profane the Bridegroom. Private and public admonition, toward those who persist in sin, is a necessary function (Mt. l8:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-13). The Westminster Confession (XXXIV, 4) avers that the Holy Spirit is that member of the Trinity (economically speaking) by whom, "the church will be...purified."

Such discipline (church censures), says the Confession (XXX, 3), is necessary for: "the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren; for the deterring of others from the like offences; for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump; for vindicating the honour of Christ, and the holy profession of the gospel; and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the church, if they should suffer His covenant and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders."

None of the old explorers have exactly had it easy of late, but few have suffered at the hands of our self-appointed guardians as much as Hernando Cortez. The bare mention of His name (it seems) requires a pejorative adjective ("the ruthless Cortez"). To the sensitive the world over, Cortez has become the quintessential "ugly European."

If you have been following these articles, I hope you are beginning to question the judgment of modern men in general and historians in particular. Whenever I run across a man that is universally condemned by our contemporaries, I generally suspect I have found a friend. In regard to Cortez, my suspicions were correct.

From October 12-22, 1993, I had the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and bring the Reformed faith to the former soviet Republic of Ukraine. About the size of the state of Texas, the Ukraine, the "Bread Basket of Europe," lies just east of Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia, and north of the Black Sea. Joe Morecraft and I were invited to participate in a Pastor's Conference for Baptist preachers organized by a Baptist Church in Georgia under the auspices of BEE - Bible EducaLion by Extension. The purpose of this evangelical organization is to train pastors in foreign countries so that they can carry on the work of the church in their villages and cities.

The truth of the words of Proverbs 8:36 were all too evident in what we saw and experienced in the Ukraine: "All who hate me (wisdom) love death." The 8th chapter of Proverbs says I. All creation reveals the wisdom of God: The countryside was beautiful and fruitful with vast open fields of rich black dirt, wide rivers, verdant mountains; 11. Those who reject God's wisdom love death: The fruit of atheistic Communism was devastating and destructive; but III. God blesses those who receive His wisdom: God's people were nevertheless hopeful, joyful, faithful, and persevering in the midst of distress and difficulty.

Inside American Education: The Decline, The Deception, The Dogmas by Thomas Sowell New York Free Press, 1993.

I have appreciated T.H.L. Parker since the late 1960's when I read two of his books, Calvin's Sermons on Isaiah 53 and Calvin's Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. In reading these books, and now in reading his newest book, Calvin's Preaching, several things have impressed me about Parker: (1). His thorough knowledge of Calvin's ministry and theology; (2). His love for Christ and the Word of God; (3). His boldness in rebuking critics of the Word of God; and (4). His desire that his readers understand him and that they apply the truth in his books to their lives.

THE WITNESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST TO JESUS CHRIST

"John the Baptist emerges as a figure of considerable proportions and importance," (Stonehouse), in Luke's narrative. In fact, "while all the Gospels give prominence to John, Luke contains a number of distinctive features which place the role of John in even sharper focus." - Stonehouse.

Luke emphasizes the striking parallelism in the births of John and of Jesus. "Although only the origin of Jesus is set forth as distinctly miraculous, in virtue of the conception by the Holy Ghost and birth of the Virgin, John's birth is shown to have been no ordinary event. -- ...the child was conceived only as the result of an intervention of divine favor." - Stonehouse.

My heart has ever been prone to wander from my God - ever since my birth! Baptized and sealed in the Name of the Triune God as His property when only one month old, and raised by my religious yet unconverted mother to attend church daily during the first seven years of my life - under my atheistic father's influence I myself nevertheless broke with Christianity, radically and completely, when only eight years of age! Thereafter, I dedicated all my talents to the furtherance of the false religion of atheism, and avidly studied rationalistic books on paleontology, archeology and anthropology. So that by the time I was a teenager I was a most convinced and articulate evolutionist and openly laughed at Christians, who tried to tell me that all the world's problems started when the "mythical" Eve munched an apple "once upon a time" some 6,000 years ago.

In a humanistic society where the State is God, the worst anathema, the number one sin, is discrimination. After all, we are told, man is basically good and the humanistic ideal of egalitarianism has been universally accepted. Consequently, it is unfair for people to be treated differently for any reason and it is certainly unfair for one person to have more money, land or a better car than anyone else. (One wonders how the humanistic elite will solve the problem of unequal intelligence). As a result of the prevailing egalitarianism, even the most atrocious and wicked legislation can be ramrodded through Congress if only it carries the words "Civil Rights" or "anti-discrimination" in its title: What congressman would want to answer accusations that he is against civil rights? How is anyone who favors discrimination going to be re-elected? In our "enlightened" age to discriminate against anything is something on the order of being opposed to mom, apple pie, and baseball.

The effects of European exploration on this continent are said to have been uniformly evil because of the "Chiistian chauvinism" that dominated the world view of the West. Stories of the brutality and oppression that (supposedly) fall on a culture because of Christianity have become commonplace. Of course most of these "atrocities" cannot be substantiated, but, then again, men who hate God have never been discouraged by an absence of facts to support their assertions. They know that a lie, if repeated often enough, will eventually supplant the truth. This has happened. So complete has the triumph of The Lie been that even Christians reflexively apologize for the "multitude of evils" they have been told were committed by their brethren.

Now, surely there have been many lamentab1e errors, painful mistakes, and even outright crimes committed in the name of the Savior. Sin and hypocrisy are (and have ever been) sad realities. and no one should seek to justify them. But, when we find that many of the "crimes" are pure fabrications or ghastly exaggerations, we need to realize something other than a "search for truth" is afoot.