Archive | June, 2010

Writing Standards for the Web

The Yahoo! Style GuideIs it e-mail or email, Internet or internet, Web site, Website, or website? In a new book that deals with standards for writing online, Yahoo addresses these questions and many more. Coming in at 528 pages, The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World is available for pre-order from Amazon for $14.84 and is scheduled to ship on July 6. Some of the content is also available online, as well as supplementary content not available in the book.

Standard guides like The Associated Press Stylebook1 and The Chicago Manual of Style will remain useful and worth consulting. But there’s a lot these tried and true guides don’t cover, and I find them to be a tad dated when it comes to keeping up with the fast-paced world of the Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc. For example, AP just recently switched from Web site to website.

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Footnotes

  1. The new 2010 edition isn’t available at Amazon yet.
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Edwards on Faith and Works in Justification

Justification by Faith Alone by Jonathan EdwardsIn my estimation, Jonathan Edwards’s Justification by Faith Alone contains one of the most important and misunderstood1 evangelical discussions on the relationship between faith and works as they pertain to justification and salvation. Delivered in 1734 and first published in 1738, it may be found in 1:622–54 of his two-volume Works (Worcester rev. ed.),2 4:64–132 of his four-volume Works (Worcester ed.), 5:351–452 of his ten-volume Works (Dwight ed.), 19:147–2423 of his twenty-six volume Works, as an individual volume, and online in as many as seven different places.

As I continue my discussion on whether evangelicals, who affirm sola fide, are forced to sweep the passages that insist on holiness and good works under the rug, I turn to Jonathan Edwards, against whom no informed person would make such an accusation, as you can see for yourself in the quotations below. Except for the first, all of these selections come from his third and fourth sections, which discuss evangelical obedience and answer objections. I’ve bolded the most relevant portions.

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Footnotes

  1. If you’re concerned about Edwards’s view on sola fide, Don Kistler’s post on the Puritan Board is a helpful clarification.
  2. Cf. Amazon, CBD, Logos, and WTS Books.
  3. Or 19:143–242 including the editor’s preface.
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More Than One Third of the Internet Is Porn

A recent study by Optenet finds that more than one in three pages on the web is pornographic, and it’s growing at a faster rate than last year.

Predominant content on the Internet is pornography, which makes up 37% of the total number of Web pages online, according to a new study published by Optenet, a pioneer and global leader of enabling SaaS offerings  and delivering “on-premise” security solutions.

The report, which includes a representative sample of approximately 4 million extracted URLs, shows that adult content on the Internet as well as illegal content such as child pornography and illegal drug purchase has undergone a significant increase of 17% in the first quarter of 2010, as compared to the same period in 2009.
. . .

Ana Luisa Rotta, director of child protection projects at Optenet, said that, “When you consider that more than one third of the Internet’s content is pornographic, combined with the overwhelming increase in young people now curiously visiting web sites with such ease of access, it is becoming increasingly imperative that adults take responsibility for the management of home PC security.”

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Luther on the Necessity of Good Works

I’m involved in a discussion where the claim was made that the Protestant church has distorted the gospel by removing the necessity of good works for salvation—something the early Christians unanimously affirmed. Luther was singled out as one who cared nothing about good works—at least not in the context of salvation. I pointed out this section from Luther, in which he indicates that “works are necessary to salvation.”

I reply to the argument, then, that our obedience is necessary for salvation. It is, therefore, a partial cause of our justification. Many things are necessary which are not a cause and do not justify, as for instance the earth is necessary, and yet it does not justify. If man the sinner wants to be saved, he must necessarily be present, just as he asserts that I must also be present. What Augustine says is true, “He who has created you without you will not save you without you.”1 Works are necessary to salvation, but they do not cause salvation, because faith alone gives life. On account of the hypocrites we must say that good works are necessary to salvation. It is necessary to work. Nevertheless, it does not follow that works save on that account, unless we understand necessity very clearly as the necessity that there must be an inward and outward salvation or righteousness. Works save outwardly, that is, they show evidence that we are righteous and that there is faith in a man which saves inwardly, as Paul says, “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” [Rom. 10:10]. Outward salvation shows faith to be present, just as fruit shows a tree to be good. (“The Disputation Concerning Justification,” LW, 165)

Footnotes

  1. N21: Sermo 170. Migne 38, 923.
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Calvin on God’s Permissive Will

Calvin: Institutes of the Christian ReligionAfter reading my post on Zac Smith’s cancer a while back, a friend of mine saw a link in the sidebar to a related post, “The Grace of Cancer,” and left a comment challenging my choice of words when I repeatedly said that God gave cancer to a man from our church to bring him to repentence.

I responded by encouraging him to read Calvin’s InstitutesI, xviii (esp. 1), where he discusses the “distinction [that] has been invented between doing and permitting,” and Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.”

I spent some time rereading Calvin’s chapter on the issue of permission, “The Instrumentality of the Wicked Employed by God, While He Continues Free from Every Taint,” and I thought much of it was worth quoting here at length. I’ve bolded the most pertinent portions.

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Was the Oil Spill an Act of God?

Rick Warren tweeted earlier today, “When people call an ocean oil spill caused by human drilling ‘an Act of God,’ THAT, friends, is taking God’s name in vain!”

To my surprise, I enjoy a lot of what Warren tweets, but in this case I think he has it precisely backwards. Failing to attribute to God complete sovereignty over all of the events of His world—even the “accidental” ones for which man is at some level responsible—is to rob God of His glory.

Amos wrote a few thousand years ago, “Does disaster [רָעָה] come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” (Amos 3:6). Amos was speaking of intentional disaster (an invading army seeking to overtake a city), not events resulting accidentally or from carelessness like an oil spill. If the former is rightly attributed to God, certainly the latter would be as well.

Job’s response to the loss of his children by a great wind bringing the house down upon them was, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

Both of these biblical writers saw God as the ultimate actor behind natural disasters and the evil of men.

And let us not forget that the cross itself, with all its evil, was an act of God (Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:27–28).

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