Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Technology at Sea
08/31/2005 - James WhiteWell, I must admit, the Sun Princess is quite the ship. I just discovered that aside from the Internet Cafe (which I had become accustomed to on past cruises), this ship has a Wi-Fi hot spot that, though it costs the same as the Internet Cafe, allows me to use my laptop so as to get my regular mail, not just special mail sent to a special address. And so, here I am! I can blog, though I am not sure how much I will be able to do as far as pictures go, since that requires getting an FTP connection, which takes time, and given this is by satellite, might be just a little tricky. But in any case, greetings from somewhere at sea between Ketchikan and Juneau!
Today we had a session wherein Dr. Jim Renihan spoke on the topic, "That's Just Your Interpretation." It was a great introduction to the importance and practice of biblical hermeneutics. It was held in the show lounge on the ship, and the stage has the brightest, most amazingly RED stage curtain I've ever seen. I told Jim that no respectable Reformed Baptist would be caught dead speaking in front of something like that.
Personally, I am sitting on my balcony listening to the waves rolling by, watching the storm clouds dance on the mountains only a few hundred yards away as we move through the Inner Passage. It is only in the mid to lower 50s, and, of course, as always on a ship, there is some wind, so I have to warm my hands up every few minutes. But, it was 116 at my home in Phoenix last Sunday, so I will enjoy this cool weather, and the incredibly clean air, for as long as I can!
Finally, we all continue to pray for Eddie Exposito and the members of his church at this time of devastation in New Orleans and all along the Gulf Coast. We pray God will provide strength and the means of ministry to all those seeking to minister during this time of trial.
Hurricane Relief for Sovereign Grace Fellowship in New Orleans
08/31/2005 - Rich PierceMany of us have seen recent video of the devastation done by Hurricane Katrina to the city of New Orleans, the floodwaters covering the city, the damage to the SuperDome, and the people being evacuated.
Just north of New Orleans on Lake Ponchartrain is the town of Slidell, Louisiana. Slidell was hit particularly hard by the storm, with much of the town left underwater, and some reports calling it a total loss.
One of our #prosapologian channel regulars, Eddie Exposito, is co-pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Slidell, and was forced to evacuate with his family. Eddie and the members of his church will likely return to face major repair of damage, and some may experience complete loss of their home and possessions.
Alpha and Omega Ministries has taken steps to set up a Paypal fund to help provide for the needs of Eddie and his congregation as they return home and face the task of repair and rebuilding. Please pray for the members of Sovereign Grace Fellowship, and consider making a donation to meet their needs at this time.
Greetings from Ketchikan!
08/31/2005 - James WhiteGreetings from Ketchikan, Alaska! I was informed that there is an Internet Cafe with reasonable prices in port, so I quickly put something together to let you all know how things are going up here in the Inner Passage of Alaska.
Yesterday was the second of the two debates in this series, this one a four-man discussion of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was joined by Dr. Jim Renihan of the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California. We took the affirmative in confessing the historic doctrine of the resurrection of Christ over against John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, both considered to be the leading "Historical Jesus" scholars in the world. The debate/discussion was less formal than the Saturday evening debate, and lasted right at two and a half hours.
There was a great deal of direct dialogue in this discussion. We each had ten minutes to make our opening presentations (Dr. Borg is speaking in the first picutre) and then we basically asked questions and dialogued for an hour thereafter. Then we had a period of audience questions. The dialogue was respectful and amiable, despite the many temptations that would exist for it to become otherwise in light of the deeply held convictions on both sides. Once again we have proven our critics less-than-honest when they seek to misrepresent the debates we have pursued for fifteen years now. Indeed, we now have fifty-eight examples of how the truth can be defended in a respectful manner. ...
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Heading to Sea: Quick Report
08/28/2005 - James WhiteWell, we are starting to get re-packed as we head out early in the morning for the drive to Vancouver, from whence we will head to sea Monday evening for the apologetics cruise to Alaska. Keep especially Tuesday at "high noon" in prayer, as that will be the four-man debate on the Resurrection. Pray as well for my son Joshua, who will be doing the audio and video taping of the debate. There are always unforeseen challenges, and we really want the taping to go well.
A quick report on the weekend. We packed out Emmanuel Baptist Church on Friday night as we kicked off the conference. Dr. Jim Renihan, head of the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies, started us off with a tremendous presentation of the authority and inspiration of God's Word. I then spoke on the Da Vinci Code, and then Steve Camp led in worship. It was a tremendous time! The next morning I spoke on the canon of Scripture, and then we had a round table discussion. In the afternoon Dr. Renihan and Dr. Ascol continued the emphasis upon the authority and sufficiency of God's Word.
Then, of course, came the debate. Here you see a picture of myself and Dr. Crossan chatting before the debate began. John Dominic Crossan was a tremendously amiable participant in the debate, and as a result, the debate was exactly what we desired: respectful, clear, to the point, and hence very useful. I focused upon the presuppositions that Dr. Crossan (and many in the Jesus Seminar in general) bring to the text. This led to some excellent exchanges, especially during the cross-examination period. I truly believe the recording of this debate will fill a hole in the existing material relevant to this topic, for I have surely not heard anyone approach the topic from this perspective before.
Lots of people worked very, very hard to make this weekend happen. Most especially, Rich Pierce, Mike O'Fallon and all the folks at Sovereign Christian Cruises, Larry Vondra, and my own son, Josh. My wife snapped this picture of Josh and I, and I thought it turned out rather well, especially in perspective. I was very proud of my son as he worked alongside everyone else in setting up, operating cameras, etc. It was truly a wonderful weekend all around.
Finally, some of our regulars in our chat channel have been forced to evacuate New Orleans in the face of hurricane Katrina. This is the "big one" the folks in New Orleans have talked about for years, but have dodged for the past four decades. Please pray for them and for all who are suffering at this time.
What a Wonderful Evening
08/26/2005 - James WhiteWell, the 2005 A&O Conference started off on the right foot this evening. What a wonderful time we had! The Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church was completely filled. Honestly, we couldn't have seated another five folks if we tried. Jim Renihan began with a tremendous and passionate presentation of the inspiration and authority of the Word of God. It was so tremendously encouraging to have one of the leading Reformed Baptist scholars starting off our time presenting the very truths I have sought so long to proclaim. I then followed with a discussion of the Da Vinci Code and its blatant lies, and then Steve Camp closed our evening with an hour of wonderful worship and music.
What a tremendous group of believers have come out to Seattle! How encouraging they have all been! I can really tell that this weekend is indeed being prayed for by believers all over the world, and the Lord is blessing.
Update from Seattle
08/26/2005 - James WhiteWow, old home week has begun! I just went down to have lunch with Mike O'Fallon and Bill Webster, and ended up running into c0ach, solaChristo, MarieP, Life, redgoatee, Dr. Renihan and his wife, Bill McKeever and his wife--we are taking over! My son has arrived, Steve Camp is on his way from the airport as I type this, and God bless Tom Ascol, he left at like 3am his time, and will be in here soon (after a massive layover in Houston!) I am truly excited as I see all of this coming together!
08/26/2005 - James WhiteI feel like a balding psychologist! But I can't erally say that, since that would make Rich the equivalent of Roz...well, they do both start with an "R."
Anyway, things are moving fast here in Seattle. Lots of folks arriving, and that's always exciting, seeing familiar faces, as well as new ones. Always encouraging as well. Preparations are on-going at the church for the beginning of the conference this evening, and, of course, I'm focused upon tomorrow evening's debate with John Dominic Crossan. Travel issues have arisen, as they always do; Steve Camp's plane had a mechanical issue and the flight was canceled; not sure when he will get in today, Lord willing. Tom Ascol is in Florida, and we all know what THAT means. Hope he is able to make it in as well.
Rich and Mike and Larry are already hard at work getting things set up, and I am busy in my room working on my notes, presentation, questions, etc. Please keep us in your prayers, and may God be glorified!
A New Blog
08/20/2005 - James WhiteGuest blogger Alan Kurschner developed the blog infection and succumbed. Here's his new blog. No word on if a memorial service is planned. :-)
I Really Did Blog Today
08/12/2005 - James WhiteHonestly. I posted three blog articles today. It is just that I scheduled them to appear during the cruise! A few folks have promised a few more "guest blogs" but we are really coming down to "crunch time" on the conference and cruise, so, things might get a tad thin around here for a while. Please don't let the quiet keep you from praying for the conference, the cruise, and most especially, the two debates. It is our hope they will be a blessing to God's people for years to come. Also, please remember the great costs involved in arranging these major events, and especially these large debates. Your support is deeply appreciated.
Out of Town
08/04/2005 - James WhiteOut of town till Monday afternoon. Can't guarantee much over the weekend, though I've been promised Internet connectivity while I'm away, anyhow, so if that pans out, I'll try to put in an appearance here. I have three blog series on my "list" to get to, but each will require a fair amount of work, so I'm not sure if I will even try to start them prior to the conference and cruise in just a matter of weeks. Maybe till then I will just post fragments of notes and quotations in preparation for the upcoming events. In any case, remember as you face a world seeking to make you compromise:
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Col. 3:23-24)
08/01/2005 - James WhiteI took a few moments to read through a few pages of a Solid Ground book I mentioned a few weeks back, Heroes of the Reformation by Richard Newton. I was struck by the fact that though it is meant for young people, in reality, sadly, given the passage of time, it would be quite appropriate for most adults today. And I was also struck by the unapologetic, obvious attempt to apply the lessons learned from history to every day Christian living. Here's an example from the section on William Farel:
Farel was a self-denying man. If he had desired to live an easy, quiet life, without exposing himself to dangers, or trials, or persecutions of any kind, he could have done so by simply giving up the cause for which the Reformers worked, and remaining in the Romish church. But his desire was to do what was right in the sight of God, and not what would be the easiest for himself. It was no easy thing to travel over the Swiss mountains at any time, but especially in the depths of winter. Yet Farel never hesitated to go when duty called him. He was always ready to deny himself for the glory of God, and for the good of men. And this is the true spirit of a Christian. Jesus said, "If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Let us all try to have a self-denying spirit.I know, I know, "How quaint!" Yet I wonder how much better things would be if we took to heart such honest, simple, plain and uncomplicated exhortations to godly behavior? Here's the link to the book--oh, and I just saw that there is another volume, Heroes of the Early Church that I don't have.
But there was one thing about Farel that was not so good. It mention this not that we should try to imitate it, but that we should avoid it.
Farel was a hot tempered man. He was something like the disciples when they wanted their Master to let them call down fire from heaven, as Elijah did, on those who would not do what they wished. One day he saw a Romish procession going along the street. He went up to the priest, who was carrying an image of St. Anthony, snatched the image out of his hands and threw it in the river. This raised a great tumult, and Farel came close to losing his life. It was wrong for him to do this. It was not what our blessed Lord would have advised him to do. One of his friends, a leading man among the reformers, reproved him for this violence.
"Remember, brother," he said, "men may be led by gentleness, but they will not be driven by violence. Do not forget that you were sent to preach to people, but not to rail at them. Pour on wine and oil in due season, and try to act as a loving minister of Christ, but not as a task master or a tyrant." This was good advice for him, and it is good advice to us. Jesus said, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." Let us strive to imitate "the gentleness of Christ."