Christ’s Baptism and the Gospel

What a great service we had again at our church. Military chaplain the Rev. Keith Lingsch was our guest preacher, and his sermon on Christ’s baptism, commemorated on this day of the
Epiphany, gave me epiphanies of my own.

He pointed out that John’s was baptism explicitly for SINNERS. (“Repent! Flee the wrath to come!”) So no wonder he was surprised that Jesus wanted this baptism. But Jesus’s baptism marked His identification with sinners and His taking their sins into Himself. “A sinner’s baptism prefigured a sinner’s death.”

This would have been plenty for a good sermon, but then Rev. Lingsch built up to this epiphany: Because of this exchange, what God said of Christ’s baptism applies now to YOU and YOUR baptism. The heavens open for YOU. The Holy Spirit descends on YOU. God in His Word says, ” YOU are my beloved son. In YOU I am well well pleased.”

John Warwick Montgomery is in the house

I picked up John Warwick Montgomery at the airport last night. He is now back in the states, where he will serve on the faculty of Patrick Henry College. He will keep his residence in France and continue his Apologetics Institute in Strasbourg, but he will be in residence here for one semester each year. Although he and his wife had been on an airplane for some 13 hours, they were crackling with energy, wit, and insight. It will be great to have him here, and I know our students will appreciate getting to study under someone of his magnitude.

Just idly surfing the other day, I came across this brilliant essay of his, showing how his evidentialist approach to apologetics fits in with Luther’s teachings about the incarnation, the sacraments, that salvation is “outside ourselves,” and that we must learn about God “from the bottom up,” not beginning with abstractions about God but beginning with the tangible God in the manager and on the Cross. Faith remains a gift of God, not something we figure out with reason as such, but it must begin with object truth. Read the essay yourself. It’s entitled
The Incarnate Christ: The Apologetic Thrust of Lutheran Theology.

Salute to the Packers. . .

. . .for their wild, snowy playoff victory over Seattle. (P.S.: All Packers fans are very grateful to the New York Giants.)

HT: Pastor Esget

Playing The Smoke-Filled Room: Democrat edition

[For rules and set-up instructions, see yesterday's post.]

We’re the big Democratic honchos meeting in a Denver hotel room, designing a winning ticket for a deadlocked convention. . .

OK, Carville, Begala, settle down. Let’s get started. Wait! I’m personally offended. We don’t have enough women or minorities. Donna, pull in that cleaning lady from the hall. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t speak English, since her kind is anti-abortion anyway, but we have to stand on principle. Wait! I’m personally offended again. You union bosses, put out those cigars! The Democratic caucus does not allow tobacco. Sean, give me a hit from that joint that is passing around. Anyone else personally offended about anything? Good. Let’s get started.

We have two really good candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But which one would be stronger at the top of the ticket? Or would the two together be weaker than either one of them separately. Might having the first woman AND the first African-American be derided as the politically-correct ticket that would put off the general public?

No, Donna, we cannot have two vice presidents. I know, a Clinton, Obama, and Richardson ticket would also let us add the first Hispanic. The constitutions doesn’t allow for that. I know, it’s an evolving document suited to the needs of the time, but I don’t think we could this through the courts in time. Maybe for our second term.

I’ve got it! A slate consisting of Clinton and Clinton! That would be perfect. The 22nd Amendment keeps anyone from being ELECTED to the office more than twice. If the vice-president had to take-over because the president died, that would be OK, wouldn’t it? And if the Supreme Court doesn’t go our way, even after we will have packed it, if Hillary dies, Bill could resign, and NANCY PELOSI would be our new president! How perfect is that?

[Your move. . . .You can be serious if you want to.]

What is a Reagan conservative?

The conventional wisdom is that the Reagan coalition was an alliance of economic conservatives, national defense conservatives, and social conservatives. Some say that in this election the Reagan coalition is coming apart.

Joe Carter, though, who just finished a stint with the Huckabee campaign, challenges that tripartite classification of conservatives. He says that it might apply to the insular world of Washington think tanks and pundits. But he argues that in the heartland of America one finds few of those distinctions. A conservative there embraces all three of those positions. Reagan’s genius was in mobilizing ordinary Americans and turning their home-grown conservatism into a national movement. Reagan was in many ways a POPULIST, which is not some advocate of a liberal agenda but someone who is an advocate for the ordinary American. Mr. Carter maintains that Huckabee’s populism is very much in the tradition of Ronald Reagan.

Read what Mr. Carter (former editor of the World blog, by the way) has to say by clicking the evangelical outpost: The One-Legged Stool:
. I don’t know whether you are ordinary or extraordinary, but let me know what you think.

More Stem Cells without killing

Yet another major breakthrough has taken place in generating stem cells without killing an embryo. Scientists have found a way to take one cell from an embryo and multiply it into human stem cells. The procedure does not kill the embryo, and, in fact, embryos that have had this cell haircut have been successfully implanted and brought to term. This method seems especially promising because, unlike other non-lethal approaches discovered recently that require more research, it already works in creating new lines of stem cells!