Andrew Fuller: Holiness Necessary to Salvation

In a personal confession of faith Andrew Fuller delivered in 1783 when he was installed at the Baptist  Church in Kettering (printed in Haykin’s The armies of the Lamb), item 17 said:

“Although I disclaim personal holiness as having any share in our justification, I consider it absolutely necessary to salvation, for without it ‘no man shall see the Lord.'”

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Early Calvinistic Baptists in Bethel, Maine – Part 7

Following up on a previously posted series of six parts, here is a seventh post looking at one particular Calvinistic Baptist in Bethel, Maine.

Moses Mason Jr. (1757-1837) was a member of the church and also served as Revolutionary War solider, being part of the march on Ticonderoga. He was born in Newton, Massachusetts. In 1777, when he was 21 years old, he is described as being 5’6 tall.

In 1799, he moved to Bethel, Maine and bought a farm “on the north side of Barker’s Ferry.” He married Eunice from Dublin, New Hampshire. They had a total of eleven children, one of which, also named Moses (1789-1866)–who went on to become the first postmaster in Bethel.

Moses was very active in the town as a highway surveyor, constable, a representative, selectman, justice of the peace, and was also responsible for 4th of July celebrations.  With the gracious help of my nephew Tyler, I was able to secure a copy of an oration Mason gave “before a respectable audience” on July 4th, 1809. It was printed in 1810 by Sewall Goodridge in Sutton, Massachusetts.

It is rather patriotic, with a balance between optimism and concern for the future. Here is a small portion of the speech which I’ve transcribed:

“We ought to rejoice that our lot is fallen in so favorable a spot, that in confirming our independence and sovereignty, we have had an opportunity of becoming a respectable nation. Will not that day wherein our Independence was declared, be ever had in remembrance as long as the continuance of time? Shall it ever be said we shall be subdued by any one of the powerful Belligerents, which do exist? we hope not. But when we behold the convulsions of Europe, when we see desolation, destruction, and all other concomitant evils of war, spreading wide their baneful influence over the whole earth. Do we not anticipate the approach of that dreaded period, when we shall be involved in that calamitous whirlpool?”

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Out And About (2014-09-08)

Literature

Foreign Policy

  • Unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton says she owes a lot to Henry Kissinger–and it shows, her foreign policy very much follows in his tradition. I can only imagine what Christopher Hitchens would have said if he were still alive. Imagine that. Hillary and Kissinger. In one article.
  • The White House is saying that destroying ISIS may take three years. Sounds like an underestimate.
  • Just Say No by Eric Margolis is worth a read.
  • This article is fascinating. Especially the quote from the Iraqi exile from before the overthrow of Saddam’s government: “Of course the Americans will get rid of Saddam…but what will we have then? A thousand little Saddams.”

Israel

  • This post over at Reformed Libertarian is helpful in showing the problem with the common supposition that part of God’s plan is to have the temple rebuilt in Israel.

Immigration

  • This graphic is helpful in showing how important immigrants have been in the founding of the major tech companies in the U.S.

Civil Liberties

  • This data about police militarization is stunning.
  • This sounds “Orwellian” to me.

History

  • This photo of Simone de Beauvoir and John Paul Sartre (from when they first met) is pretty neat!
  • This photography project, featuring mapped photos from the 1930s and 1940s is AMAZING.

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Book Reviewing Tips

readingI am by no means an authority on writing book reviews. However, a friend asked and I figured I would share some thoughts and pointers about reviewing books.

  1. Take notes while you read. Put it somewhere: either in the book itself, on the computer, or on paper. Nothing makes reviewing harder than suddenly have to summon to mind all the details of 300 pages and your reactions to it without having your previous reactions to reference.
  2. Review every book you read (for a while). Then only review books you want to review (for a while). These extremes, the obligation and whimsical choice, will improve your reviews.
  3. Write non-review essays and read books on writing. Read the likes of Christopher Hitchens, P. G. Wodehouse, and Mark Twain.
  4. No matter what position you take on the book, you should aim to be right of contrarian and left of fan-boy stooge. No matter how good or bad the book is, your readers shouldn’t be running for their umbrella to protect themselves from your awe-drool or rage-spit. As a book reviewer, you should aim for a bit of aloofness. You can’t be totally aloof and passionless, but on the other hand there is a sort of coolness that one expects when reading a critic.
  5. Though you may not use it every time, learn to use a scalpel. Make a game of it. Take a 750 word review down to 700, then 650. It’s harder that you think. However, a pared down review will rarely be worse. It will take time and effort, though!
  6. It isn’t a book report. So don’t write a book report. And make it lively and depending on its purpose, more personal.
  7. Briefly check out the other reviews. Of course you’ll want to avoid being influenced by what others say, but on the flip aside, you’ll be a far better reviewer if you are aware of what others are saying.
  8. Your review should be focused on the book, but not myopic either–don’t ignore things like other relevant works, current events, trends, etc. Your readers, if they pick up the book, will not do so in a vacuum.
  9. If you have something to say about it, don’t hesitate to comment on the physical aspects if the book, like ours design, layout, cover, feel, page quality, etc. It’s important to many readers.
  10. Like so many other activities, you should just do it. Stop over-thinking it. No preparation can equal just rolling up your sleeves and writing. You will even learn from your failures.
  11. Rarely, if ever, use words like: timely, magisterial, multi-layered, lyrical, or beguiling. The same applies to phrases like “artfully written”, “consumate ease”, “luminous prose”, or “tour de force”. Just don’t do it, even if you think it makes you sound smart.

That’s all I have for now. Does anyone have any other tips to add?

Image credit:  Image from Magdalena Roeseler’s flickr account, and licensed under the terms of a Creative Commons license. It has been cropped and scaled.

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“Work plus prayer”: The life and legacy of Dr. Martha Gifford (1886-1982)

After many hours of research and writing, I have finally completed “Work plus prayer”: The life and legacy of Dr. Martha Gifford (1886-1982), a paper about my dear wife’s great-great-great aunt, who was an American Baptist missionary doctor serving at Ellen Mitchell Memorial Hospital in Moulmein, Burma.

The project includes a nearly 10,000 word biographical essay, 20 pictures/illustrations, and ten previously unpublished poems. It has been released under a Creative Commons license which allows it to be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as it is not modified in any way.

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“Do We Generally Feel..Grace?” – Andrew Fuller

“We hold to the doctrine of a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead; but do we cordially enter into the glorious economy of redemption, wherein the conduct of the sacred Three is most gloriously displayed? Surely if we did, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost would be with us more than it is.

We avow the doctrines of free, sovereign, and efficacious grace; but do we generally feel the grace therein discovered? If we did, how low should we live! How grateful should we be! We should seldom think of their sovereign and discriminating nature, without considering how justly God might have left us all to have had our own will, and followed our own ways; to have continued to increase our malady, and despite the only remedy! Did we properly enter into these subjects, we could not think of a great Savior, and a great salvation, without loathing ourselves for being such great sinners; nor of what God had done for and given to us, without longing to give him our little all, and feeling an habitual desire to do something for him.

If we realized our redemption by the blood of Christ, it would be natural for us to consider ourselves as bought with a price, and therefore not our own, ‘a price, all price beyond!’ O, could we enter into this we should readily discern the force and propriety of our body and spirit being his, his indeed! dearly bought, and justly due!

Finally, we all profess to believe in the vanity of this life and its enjoyments, and the infinitely superior value of that above; but do we indeed enter into these things? If we did, surely we should have more of heavenly-mindedness, and less of criminal attachment to the world.”

– an excerpt from a letter by Andrew Fuller from Michael Haykin, ed., The Armies of the Lamb: the Spirituality of Andrew Fuller (Joshua Press, 2002), 94-95.

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ISIS and Cluster Bombs

ISIS is being criticized for their use of cluster bombs. And no doubt, these are horrible weapons that ought not be used. They explode into sub-munitions. They are horribly inaccurate, with an margin of error of 1,200 meters.  Furthermore, many of them do not explode, leaving dangerous landmines.

However, as is so often the case, that is only half the story. ISIS is following in a long tradition of cluster weapon use.  In fact cluster bombs seem to be a weapon of choice for the United States and Israel. And of course, you only get blamed for using cluster bombs if you are the current “bad guy.”

  • Israel fired about 1,800 cluster bombs into Lebanon on one occasion. Israel would use cluster bombs on Lebanon on three occasions.
  • The United States Department of Defense sold $640 million dollars worth of cluster bombs (1,300 units) to Saudi Arabia
  • In 2003-2006, the United States and the UK used about 13,000 cluster bombs in Iraq.
  • In 2001-2002, the United States used 1,228 cluster bombs in Afghanistan.
  • In 1999, the United States, the UK, and the Netherlands dropped 1,765 cluster bombs in Serbia/Kosovo.
  • The United States, France, the UK, and Saudi Arabia drop 61,000 cluster bombs in Iraq during the Gulf War.
  • In the 1960s and 1970s in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, the United States used cluster bombs extensively.
  • Interestingly enough, in World War II, Nazi Germany and the USSR used cluster bombs, but the Allied forces didn’t.

Unsurprisingly, the United States and Israel have refused to sign a treaty calling on the prohibition of “the use, transfer and stockpile of cluster bombs.”

We should demand that ISIS, Israel, and the United States stop using and distributing cluster bombs!

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Books Finished in August

(6 paper books, 0 e-books, and 2 audio books)

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