300 Posts

I have now made more than 300 posts on this blog.  That's a milestone for 2009. 

There have been 3,232 visits this year and 5,549 page-views. Since Fear and Trembling’s inception in February of 2007, there have been 8,079 visits from 5,079 visitors and 12,675 page-views. (As per Google Analytics)

I will try to hit 400 in 2010.

Thanks for reading!

Read the Bible in 2010

Justin Taylor has done a fabulous job of compiling numerous Bible Reading plans here and here. I hope you will take advantage of these as we ring in the new year.

I recommend the M’Cheyne plan as I have used it before. I found it to be extremely helpful.

I cannot decide for certain which plan to use this year. I make take my time. I may just read a chapter a day from the Old Testament and a chapter a day from the New Testament in the Reformation Study Bible, including all of the notes. Should help me “dive deeper.”

Happy New Year!!


William Cowper, Poet and Hymn-writer

William Cowper was one of the most popular poets and hymn-writers of the 18th Century. He is credited by some as the fore-father of English Romantic poetry, inspiring work by William Wordsworth, among others.

Cowper was born in 1731. He was a contemporary of John Wesley, George Whitefield, and William Wilberforce. He struggled with depression. Some believe he suffered from manic-depression (bipolar psychosis) due to the alternating periods of emotional highs and lows evident in his life.

After a major depression at age 21, he attempted suicide. At age 28, he had another breakdown caused mainly by the threat of a public examination before Parliament. They were to see if he could be appointed to a government position. He was committed to an insane asylum after more failed suicide attempts.

He became a Christian during his stay in the asylum when he picked up a Bible placed there and read Romans 3:25, where Christ’s sacrifice for us is highlighted. Cowper later wrote, “I saw the sufficiency of the atonement [Christ] had made, my pardon sealed in His blood, and all the fullness and completeness of His justification. In a moment I believed, and received the gospel…”

Over the next few years, he developed a close relationship with his pastor: John Newton. He and Newton worked together on a collection of hymns, including Newton’s “Amazing Grace” and Cowper’s “God Moves In A Mysterious Way” and “There Is A Fountain.”

Cowper, even as a Christian, continued to struggle with depression. Our doctrine must make room for Christians who struggle. Some of his friends were convinced that Cowper’s depression was a physical problem. You see, his depressions seemed to come every January and get worse, then better, in a regular pattern. John Newton was so convinced.

It was spiritual depression. Satan sometimes convinced Cowper that he was not saved and could never be saved. Cowper died in 1800, in deep despair, but he never completely forgot the hope he had in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had many friends like Newton to remind him, when he needed reminding the most, of God’s grace evident in Christ’s sacrifice.

There is hope for all who struggle with depression. We can often share hope with them by reminding them of Christ’s love and passion. We can let “redeeming love” be our theme, as the verse of the following hymn by Cowper reads.

There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins; and
sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. Lose all their
guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains; and sinners plunged beneath that
flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that
fountain in his day; and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins
away. Wash all my sins away, wash all my sins away; and there may I, though vile
as he, wash all my sins away…

E'er since, by faith, I saw the
stream thy flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be
till I die. And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die; redeeming love has
been my theme, and shall be till I die…


Hymn text excerpted from http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh622.sht

Information from The Hidden Smile of God, John Piper, Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2001.

[1/6/11: I am astonished at the popularity of this post.  It seems many readers land here.  Please feel free to comment on this post while you are here.]


Maybe X-mas is not so bad after all.

Why is X Used when it Replaces Christ in Christmas? from R.C. Sproul

Merry Christmas everyone!

Am I a Christian just because I was raised that way?

I have recently shared much of my experience growing up in an evangelical church. I had many experiences, both good and bad, but by and large the experience was positive. I was raised Christian, and I am Christian today.

Does this mean I am biased? Yes, but that does not mean I am wrong. The strength or weakness of an argument should be evaluated independent of the circumstances of the person giving the argument.

Besides, we are all biased in some way or another, if we are honest with ourselves. The accusation that “you believe only because of your circumstances” goes both ways. After all, we all have faced and are facing circumstances that shape our views.

I am an intelligent adult. I am not now a “product of my raising.” I am a Christian by choice, and my religion is my own. I like the way Cornelius Van Till addresses concerns on bias here.

I urge you to review the arguments I give critically on their own merits. Let them stand for themselves.


The Gospel Is for the Broken by Rod Rosenbladt

Follow this link to a great statement of the gospel for those of us who struggle with sin.  Here's an excerpt:

When the major stress in pulpit and curriculum shifts from "Christ outside of me, dying for me" to "Christ inside of me, improving me," the upshot is always the same: many broken, sad ex-Christians who despair of being able to live the Christian life as the Bible describes it. So they do what is really a sane thing to do -- they leave. The way it looks to them is that "the message of Christianity has broken them on the rack." To put it bluntly, it feels better to have some earthly happiness as a pagan and then be damned than it feels to be trying every day as a Christian to do something that is one continuous failure -- and then be damned anyway...What the "sad alumni" need to hear (perhaps for the first time) is that Christian failures are going to walk into heaven, be welcomed into heaven, leap into heaven like a calf leaping out of its stall, laughing and laughing as if it's all too good to be true.
Rosenbladt then offers hope in the Gospel of Christ.


Christianity As A Series of Verifiable Facts

A Christianity Today article piqued my interest: “The Missionary Who Wouldn't Retire: Lesslie Newbigin, born 100 years ago today, launched a new career at age 66 by calling Western churches to act like they were in the mission field,” by Krish Kandiah posted 12/08/2009 10:07AM.

I wrestle often on this blog and others who argue that religion is a matter of “faith,” or personal preference. This “faith” is supposedly opposed to reason and science, which present objective, verifiable facts.

This notion escapes me. I present reasoned arguments for the faith that do not precede from unverifiable assumptions (see this series of posts for an example). I present a Jesus who acted in history, a history that is verifiable in the same way the most important decisions in our culture are: eye-witness testimony and historical witness (see here).

This is in line with Newbigin’s recommendations as expressed in the article:

[Newbigin] challenges the post-Enlightenment separation between so-called objective facts in the public realm (taught at school and presented without the need for the preface "I believe") and the subjective values of the private world of religion and ethics. He argues that the church needs to humbly yet boldly enter the public sphere with a persuasive retelling of the Christian story—not as personal spirituality, but as public truth. He takes the logic for this public dialogue from the scientific community. A scientist does not present research findings as a personal preference, but with hope for universal agreement if the findings stand up to investigation. In the marketplace of ideas, we should likewise present the gospel not as personal preference but as truth that should gain universal acceptance. This allows us to commend the faith with the humble admission that we might not have exhaustively grasped the truth, but that we have truth that needs to be investigated and seriously engaged.

Like it or not, presentation of Christianity as an objectively true, verifiable religion is the best approach we can take.


R. C. Sproul Weights in on the Manhattan Declaration

[For background, see here.]

Here’s an excerpt from Sproul’s comments:

The Manhattan Declaration confuses common grace and special grace by combining them. While I would march with the bishop of Rome and an Orthodox prelate to resist the slaughter of innocents in the womb, I could never ground that cobelligerency on the assumption that we share a common faith and a unified understanding of the gospel.

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