Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Lament to God

O God, I search for you and I find you not.

My soul despairs; my thoughts are ever against me.

Do you not hear me? Are you not there?

Show me your face, O Lord; my soul longs for your peace.

My God, comfort my pains; defeat the foes of darkness.

O Lord God, find me in this barren place.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Headed to Milwaukee

I’m heading to Milwaukee on Tuesday for the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

It should be a good opportunity to spend time with friends I don’t often see, perhaps network a bit, and sit in on a few papers (and hopefully be intelligent enough to engage the presenters).

I’m really pumped about the following papers:
  • God and the Mind/Body Problem: A Critique of Selected Christian Physicalists
  • The Atonement as Vicarious Victory: Understanding the Warfare-Oriented Relationship between Penal Substitution and Christus Victor
  • The Logical Euthyphro: Laying Out the Options for God and Logic
  • Truth - Who Needs It?
  • Way Outside the Box: Why Paul's Doctrine of Justification Was Risky, Offensive, and Unparalleled in Early Judaism
  • Adam's Duty: Evolution and Human Responsibility
  • Can't We All Just Get Along? Friendly Atheism and the Epistemology of Religious Disagreement

Is anyone else coming?

If so, what papers are you interested in listening to?

Also, if you’re coming, let me know, maybe we could grab a meal, ale, or coffee together!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Brevity and Frailty

Fall is here.

Pumpkins, cider, donuts, autumnal parties, and college football. In many ways, it’s a great season.

Strangely though, it’s also a time of death. Leaves fall dead to the ground. They crunch beneath our feet, calling out from the dead. Those living in Northern climates understand this transformation. They understand that one morning they will walk outside and see their breath (if they haven’t already).

Early this morning, as I began my commute to work, I noticed the fog coming out of my nose as I exhaled.

I also noticed how quickly it vanished.

Our lives are like that, too.

It’s been just over a week since a young life vanished. A dear friend was tragically killed when a motorcycle struck her as she crossed the street. She was young, talented, beautiful, and strong. But, she was also frail. Her life was, indeed, a vapor. The fog (i.e., her life) vanished in a moment.

James provides certain helpful insights into this tragedy, namely the brevity and frailty of life. To be sure, James is frustrated with the arrogant attitudes demonstrated by his hearers and readers, but this is not my point here. My point is simply that life is brief and frail. It can, and has, been snuffed out in a moment.

James 4:14-15 employs the imagery of a vapor to describe our lives. What he means by this, at least in part, is that our lives are both brief and frail. His exhortation is to not live as though you are sovereign over your own existence, for, ultimately, your existence rests in the hands of a mightier King.

So, the next time you step outside and it’s cold enough to see the fog from your breath, exhale and watch how quickly it vanishes. It appears only for a brief moment and then disappears. Exhale again and wave your hand through the fog. Notice how easily it dissipates.

Our lives are like that.

Brief and frail.

Thankfully, in this situation, we are able to rejoice (in small measure through the tears) because we know the eternal destination of the departed. And yet, I can’t help but think that if she was here she would urge those of us still living to embrace what James was urging his audience to heed. Your life is brief (despite how long you think it will last); your life is frail (despite how strong you think you are); and Jesus is sovereign King over your existence.

May we look forward to the return of the King.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Thinking Matters

**Note - The following is the beginning of a series I will be working on surrounding the importance of thinking and why we need Christian thinkers, authors, pastors, and scholars.**

Doctrine can seem archaic and mind-numbing.

In today’s world, pragmatism is emphasized (i.e., loving people, caring for the widow and orphan, etc.). And although we must love people; although we must care for the widow and orphan; my contention is that pragmatism ought to be an effect of our theological training (rather than what affects our theology).

Theology means the study of God. We would be hard pressed to find another subject matter so worthy of our attention and study. In fact, we are all theologians; and yet, our charge is to structure our theology around skilled biblical exegesis, rather than emotive pragmatism. We need to let our theology shape how we live, rather than let how we live shape our theology.

Formulating doctrine is a subset of studying theology. As we think through various theological topics we begin to form positions on certain aspects of theology. However, despite this massive opportunity and responsibility to study God, our culture has succumbed to banality.

[I]t doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that our entire culture is in trouble. We are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, and we can no longer afford to act like it’s loaded with blanks…Our society has replaced heroes with celebrities, the quest for a well-informed character with the search for a flat stomach, substance and depth with image and personality.[1]

This quote from J.P. Moreland was written 15 years ago! How much more has our culture shifted into complacent triviality?

And to make matters worse, Christians have, within recent history, conceded the intellectual world to secular society. Most notably, this has been demonstrated through Fundamentalism.[2] What a tragedy! In fact, “[t]he average Christian does not realize that there is an intellectual struggle going on…”[3]

So, rather than Evangelical Christians leading the way in philosophy, business, politics, art, and science, we have, in general terms, surrendered those fields of study to secular society (e.g., Austin Dacey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jimi Hendrix, and Stephen Hawking).

To be sure, this is not simply a battle to be fought by scholars and pastoral professionals, “but also laypeople who need to be intellectually engaged if our culture is to be effectively reformed. Our churches are unfortunately overly-populated with people whose minds, as Christians, are going to waste.”[4]

Our responsibility as Evangelical Christians is to use our brains to glorify God; to not only toil at being a means of spiritual conversion, but intellectually as well. We ought to spend less time watching sports and more time reading apologetics. We ought to spend less time on Facebook and more time reading philosophy. We ought to spend less time watching reality TV and more time reading biblical theology.

This doesn’t mean that we will not act pragmatically on our knowledge, but my desire is that we would acquire knowledge that helps us to better interact with our families, friends, and co-workers for the glory of God and the joy of His people.

[1] James Porter Moreland and Dallas Willard, Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997), 21.
[2] Merriam-Webster defines Fundamentalism as “a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching.”
[3] James Porter Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 1.
[4] Ibid., 5.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Personal Support Letter For Our Church Plant

Friends and Family,
Greetings and salutations from Farmington, Michigan! Some of you who are receiving this letter have not heard from us in a while, and we pray that God is working in the lives of you and your families. The last few years have been exciting as I (Daniel) have finished seminary and we continue to watch Isla, our daughter, grow. The latest and most exciting development in our lives has been our involvement with a church plant in our local area; a church that has been named Redeemer Community Church (lovingly referred to as RCC by the core launch team).
RCC exists to develop disciples of Jesus Christ by the power of His Gospel through the work of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God and the joy of His people. Our motto is something that each of us knows with certainty to be true – that Jesus changes everything! I (Daniel) will be serving as a co-planter and the Pastor of Christian Education, and Jeremy Roth (the other co-planter) will be the ordained Pastor of Preaching and Vision. Jeremy and I are excited to be surrounded by a dedicated group of servants of Christ. A primary focus will be targeting the lives of men – especially young men – as they are often the least represented in the church and the most in need of Godly character and a relationship with Jesus Christ in order to assume the roles of leadership that God desires for them. RCC will also be focused on overall outreach in the community and missions worldwide. 
Exciting things are happening! The church’s web page is ; a full site will be available by mid-November 2012. Dearborn Heights’s First Assembly of God has graciously agreed to rent their facility during off-hours, and RCC will be holding Sunday evening services there starting in the spring of 2013. We are seeking affiliation with local churches, church networks, and church planting organizations, but will not be associated with a specific religious denomination. Because of this, the challenge of raising support – both prayer and financial – is paramount. We ask anyone who reads this letter to please prayerfully consider joining us in support of RCC.
Foremost, we ask for diligent prayer that we fulfill God’s will; for a specific list of requests, please see the second page. We are also in need of items that are necessary to church operation; again, see the second page.  Monetary donations are needed in order to realize the goals that RCC has in place. If you are feeling led to support me (Daniel) personally or the Church generally, we would be most humbled and honored for the financial sacrifice you are willing to make. If you feel led to support me (Daniel) personally, whether in a one-time gift or on a monthly basis (we are not yet paid employees of RCC, but, rather volunteers), please indicate on the check that the donated monies should go into the Administration Fund, otherwise the donated monies will go into a General Fund. Checks can be made out to Redeemer Community Church and sent to the address listed below. Last, and by no means least, we need individuals and families to help us build a church community. If you know of anyone who is looking for a solid church home or would otherwise like to participate, let them know about what God is doing at RCC!
Thank you in advance for your prayer and support. If you have questions about anything related to the church or us personally, please ask. We would love to share more about what God is doing in this endeavor.
In Christ,

Daniel, Heather, and Isla Fick

Redeemer Community Church needs:
-  Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes (2 Thess 3:1)
-  Pray for God’s guidance and His will to be done
-  Pray for us to seek to honor and glorify God instead of pursuing our own selfish desires
-  Pray for ministry leaders to rise up (we specifically need a children’s director and a male administrator)
-  Pray for funds and for wise stewardship of those funds
-  Pray that the people we minister to will have soft hearts
-  Pray for strength, endurance, and motivation for the core group
-  Money
-  Office supplies (paper, envelopes, writing instruments, labels, stapler and staples, folders, file cabinet, binders, scissors, tape dispenser and tape, jump drive, etc)
-  Computer and/or laptop
-  Nursery items (toys, books, diapers, wipes, blankets, crafts, etc)
-  Sunday school curriculum
-  Sound equipment
-  Projector and screen
-  Books for church resource library
-  Miscellaneous church items (collection and communion plates, pulpit, etc)

Please make checks payable to Redeemer Community Church.
Donations can be sent to:

Redeemer Community Church
501 Kings Way
Canton, MI 48188

We will be sure that the church receives all donations. You will receive a receipt, so you can deduct your charitable gift on your tax return.

Thank you again for your loving support!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Peter, Paul, and Inspiration

Peter Enns has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University, has taught at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) for 14 years, was a Senior Fellow of Biblical Studies for The BioLogos Foundation, and is currently on faculty at Eastern University teaching courses in Old and New Testaments.

In other words, Enns is no slouch. In fact, I have appreciated the limited interaction I have had with him. He is cordial and helpful, as well as intellectually honest (which has left me asking many questions). To be sure, the depth and intensity of these recent questions have been rivaled only by my introduction to Calvinism many years ago, and my (sort of) recent interactions with hell (if so inclined, you can also read my review of Rob Bell’s Love Wins).

Part of the recent din surrounding Enns is the discussion over the historicity of Adam. This discussion has undoubtedly held a prominent place within the blogosphere over the last few months (not least by Enns, Scot McKnight, and Kevin DeYoung). And yet, amongst these various discussions, I have not yet read anything on the doctrine of inspiration as it relates to Pauline and Adamic studies (which I know could simply be my own oversight).

What might be most helpful is to define inspiration:

By inspiration of Scripture we mean that supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Scripture writers which rendered their writings an accurate record of the revelation or which resulted in what they wrote actually being the Word of God.[1]

And, of course, inspiration is a consequent of revelation:

God created thoughts in the mind of the writer as he wrote.[2]


While revelation is the communication of truth from God to humans, inspiration relates more to the relaying of that truth from the first recipient(s) of it to other persons, whether then or later. Thus, revelation might be thought of as a vertical action, and inspiration as a horizontal matter.[3]

And, herein lies a critical question: If we believe Paul’s writings were inspired (2 Tim 3:10), that they were supernaturally influenced, are we not attributing error to God if we attribute error to Paul? This question stems from Enns’s assertion in The Evolution of Adam that Paul’s assumptions about human origins might not necessarily display a unique level of scientific accuracy (95). Simply put, if Enns thinks Paul was wrong about the historicity of Adam, is this not also an affirmation that man’s error can supplant God’s sovereignty in revelation and inspiration?[4]

It seems that this is where Enns is headed. In his writings on inspiration, a major theme is accounting for the incarnational aspect(s) of inspiration (i.e., the human-ness of the authors). Accounting for the human element is necessary (God is not a puppet-master), and yet, I feel a sense of unease focusing too much on the humanity of scripture (although we must understand that the text was written in a specific historical and cultural context). For instance, it seems most appropriate to affirm that God himself took on human form rather than a man becoming divine.

Paul Helm puts it nicely:

[I]f the account of his deity is controlled by data about his humanity – including his physical and mental growth, his bodily weakness, his ignorance, his emotional life – the result may be a Christ who is very different from a Christ whose divine nature is given priority.[5]

This is also, at least for me, the appropriate interpretive process for the Bible; namely, the Bible is breathed by God and authored my humans. Bruce Waltke, in his review of Enns’s Inspiration and Incarnation, states, “To be sure, the Scripture is fully human, but it is just as fully the Word of God, with whom there is no shadow of turning and who will not lie to or mislead his elect”.[6]

So, what are we to think?

Is Paul wrong?

Is Enns Wrong?

What do we have the right to conclude about the nature of revelation and inspiration?

How should revelation and inspiration affect our interpretive process?

These are some of the questions I am currently working through…

[1] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), 225.
[2] Ibid., 213.
[3] Ibid., 225-226.
[4] Enns has appropriately pointed out that this syllogism only works if the above definition of inspiration is affirmed. But, converesely, Enns’s affirmation that God’s purposes in revelation and inspiration will not be supplanted by the human element is only true if we accept his definition of inspiration. 
[6] Bruce K. Waltke, “Revisiting Inspiration and Incarnation,” The Westminster Theological Journal 71, no. 1 (2009): 94.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday's Funny

When you see a John 3:16 sign at a sporting event, now you know how it started...

**credit goes to James McGrath

Monday, July 30, 2012

Why Can't Liberal Folks Just Get It?

Inconsistency is bothersome.

Over the last couple of weeks, the president and COO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, has taken considerable flack from liberals regarding a statement he made during a radio interview, namely that legalizing same-sex marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

To be sure, Cathy does support traditional marriage as the biblical definition of the family unit, and Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, does donate to organizations promoting traditional family units (see Alan Noble's detailed post about “the Chick-fi-Asco”).

And yet, regardless of where you fall within the spectrum of same-sex marriage approval (or disapproval); regardless of where you fall within the spectrum of considering active homosexual behavior to be sinful (or not); what is bothersome is inconsistent behavior.

Specifically, not a few liberal biblical scholars have announced that they will no longer eat at Chick-fil-A because of their “intolerance” towards marriage equality.

Have they forgotten the Oreo cookie?

If they have, or, if you have, the rainbow-colored Oreo cookie made an appearance several weeks ago supporting gay pride, and liberal biblical scholars applauded.

But why is it acceptable for Kraft (the parent company of Nabisco who makes Oreo cookies) to express their convictions with a rainbow-colored cookie, and yet unacceptable for Dan Cathy, or Chick-fil-A, to express their convictions during a radio interview?

Inconsistency ad abundantiam.

Why is one form of expression appropriate and the other inappropriate? Because one is being “intolerant?” Which side is being “intolerant?”

This torrent of disdain that has swirled around a fast-food chain using their freedom to express their convictions (which is, in fact, the same type of freedom that the self-proclaimed “champions of equality and tolerance” wish to preserve for pro-homosexual convictions), this raging against the “theologically conservative propaganda machine”, is nothing more than a demonstration of liberal intolerance.

James White tweeted earlier this week that being inclusive really “means exclusively the liberal left’s views. If you are inclusive, you exclude everyone else!”

He could not be more right.

Is it not inconsistent for these “champions of equality and tolerance” to applaud the “coming out” of the Oreo cookie, but frown upon the statements made by Dan Cathy supporting traditional marriage?

Where is the equality in that?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday's Funny

I came across this video while I was looking for Rob Bell's new video on "Rediscovering Wonder".

Regardless of what you thought of Rob's bookLove Wins, you have to admit that this is hilarious!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Don't Judge Me, Bro!

There are two things that contemporary people (or at least contemporary Americans) love: social media and autonomy. And what is frequently interesting, and sometimes unnerving, is when those two loves are coupled together. Often enough, this coupling is fleshed out (through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, etc.) in three words:

Don’t judge me!

These three words are regularly used as the ultimate trump card in any discussion with opposing viewpoints.

Don’t judge me!

Autonomy at its best…

We all want to be the king (or queen) of our own little kingdom, completely sovereign over our affairs with no one to tell us otherwise (and definitely no one to tell us that we might be wrong).

We see Christians telling other Christians to stop being judgmental (to those within and without Christendom); we see non-Christians telling Christians to stop being judgmental (to those within and without Christendom). Frankly, it’s rampant.

But where is this coming from? What is the basis?

Most people, if not all (i.e., those within and without Christendom), look to Matthew 7:1 as the proof-text for affirming anti-judgmentalism (of course, it’s much easier to sledgehammer someone else with this text than it is to apply it to ourselves…).

I am going to quote Kevin DeYoung at length, because I cannot say it any better:

Judgmentalism is not the same as making judgments. The same Jesus who said “do not judge” in Matthew 7:1calls his opponents dogs and pigs in Matthew 7:6. Paul pronounces an anathema on those who preach a false gospel (Gal. 1:8). Disagreement among professing Christians is not a plague on the church. In fact, it is sometimes necessary. The whole Bible is full of evaluation and encourages the faithful to be discerning and make their own evaluations. What’s tricky is that some fights are stupid, and some judgments are unfair and judgmental. But this must be proven, not assumed…Strong language and forceful arguments are appropriate.

In other words, you can make judgments.

You do make judgments.


In fact, when Jesus tells us to “judge not, that you be not judged,” he follows that with “for with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Jesus indicates that you should be cautious when you judge because this same judgment you render will be rendered to you.

Do not be afraid to evaluate.

But remember that when you evaluate, God is going to evaluate you with that same criteria.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Simple Request to Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Held Evans is an eminent Evangelical blogger. She is a skilled writer, a courageous thinker, a charitable arguer, and, most importantly, a Christian. Although we disagree on certain points of exegesis and praxis, she is an individual whose talents and abilities should be recognized and appreciated.

Of course we know that, often enough, glowing acknowledgements are connected to some type of “but.”

In this instance, my “but” comes in the form of a request; namely, that Held Evans would be willing to call out and rebuke her readers and followers for the comments they make and the attitudes they demonstrate with as much tenacity as she does to those she disagrees with (and, eventually writes about).

To be sure, this is an issue on either side of any exegetical, theological, or cultural argument. However, what is bothersome is that those who align themselves with conservative exegesis and theology (e.g., Calvinists, complementarians, etc.) are often heavily critiqued for their so-called arrogant and aloof attitudes, whereas those providing the critique (the self-proclaimed “champions of equality”) are often given a free-pass despite demonstrating attitudes that are analogous to those they are critiquing.

In part, this request comes from the recent foofaraw surrounding Jared C. Wilson’s post about the modern celebration of perverted sexual authority/submission due to the recent success of 50 Shades of Grey. Held Evans responded, but it was not her response that left me frustrated, rather it was those commenting.

Although there were several worthwhile exchanges and comments, and, again, recognizing that vitriol can come from either side of an argument, those commenting on her posts (not just this one in particular) often resort to ad hominem and hasty generalization, which are fallacies no thinker wants to be guilty of.

So, again, here is my request (and this time it is not just to Held Evans):

Please check yourself and your readers. If you comment, ask yourself whether Jesus would submit that ad hominem attack. If you blog, do not be afraid to call out and rebuke your readers when necessary. Your readers visit (and read) your blog because they think you have something worthwhile to say (even if they might not always agree with you); but your allegiance is not ultimately to your readers, it is to Jesus.

P.S. For those scratching their heads, wondering what is going on, be sure to click the above links as well as those following to catch up on the responses and commentary surrounding said foofaraw: Doug Wilson responds, Doug Wilson's daughter, Bekah, defends her dad, J. R. Daniel Kirk responds, Morgan Guyton has one question, Michael Bird has sex with his wife not to her, and Scot McKnight wants it taken down.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday's Funny

A lesson on morality from our friends Calvin and Hobbes:

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Christian and Alcohol

Alcohol (and the consumption thereof) is a major point of division amongst Evangelical Christians.

Over the past few years, as I have deliberated about alcohol (and the consumption thereof), and as I have talked with Christian peers, I have noticed an interesting trend. Specifically, those raised in “Christian” families tend to express their “freedom in Christ” and their desire to “redeem” alcohol, whereas those raised in secular families seem to be more wary (of course, no specific quantitative study was completed for verification – rather, this is simply a general observation).

For instance, my parents and I disagree on alcohol (and the consumption thereof).

My parents, raised in what I will simply term “non-Evangelical families,” had the difficult task of not only working out their own salvation, but also pointing our family to King Jesus. Part of this task included the decision to be completely abstinent from alcohol (as opposed to their pre-conversion lifestyles); therefore, we did not have alcohol in our home, nor have I ever seen my parents consume alcohol. To be sure, I owe much to my parents for praying, struggling, guiding, and disciplining me throughout my upbringing. And yet, as I enter adulthood, as I attempt to “make my faith my own,” I have come to disagree with them on this point of Christian praxis.

Several years ago, my family was sitting around a campfire and the topic of alcohol came up. Sparing you the details, my mother indicated that the main problem with Christians consuming alcohol is that you do not want to be liable for causing a brother or sister in Christ to stumble.

I have heard this argument before. I am sure you have too.

In fact, this argument left me so uneasy that I decided to write my seminary capstone paper around this issue.

My conclusion?

Paul’s point in Romans 14 – 15 is that if you are less scrupulous you ought not persuade your more scrupulous brother into doing something outside of his faith context. Conversely, if you are more scrupulous you ought not judge the less scrupulous for being such.

In other words, if you believe you can drink alcohol to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31), please do not attempt to persuade your brother into also drinking alcohol if it is outside of his faith context. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Rom 14:23). Conversely, if drinking alcohol makes you operate outside of your faith context, then simply do not drink alcohol. However, remember that it is not your place to scornfully judge your brother (not least his Christian status) for the freedom he experiences. God is our judge, and we will all give an account before him (Rom 14:4, 12).

With that said, a few ruminations on alcohol:

First, alcohol (i.e., the substance) is not sinful.

Second, I am convinced that drinking alcohol is also not sinful. For clarity’s sake, “drinking” alcohol is quite different than being “drunk” on alcohol. This is a distinction that needs to be made.

Therefore, what can be sinful is the heart attitude behind this action (or inaction).

In short, do not persuade when you should not, and do not judge when you should not.

P.S. If you are interested in reading my paper in full, you can email me at to request a copy.

P.S.S. Preston Sprinkle has a couple of interesting blog posts about alcohol.