Oct 15

Washington D.C. 02-07 OCTOBER 2010 — American College of Surgeons Meetings
I don’t especially enjoy going to Washington D.C. It is a large dirty town, expensive, mediocre food, bad beer, and little that interests me. When you have seen the Capitol once, you’ve seen it enough. The building attempts to portray strength. Yet, I continually am befuddled as to which idiot decided on that silly statue on top–probably it’s the same fools that cogitate and ruminate inside. The building sitting behind the Capitol building was even more despairing. To climb the steps of this edifice would best state old Dante’s words “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.

Correct. It is the Supreme Court building. Dennis, for your interest (and yours alone, since only you have read Tupper Saucey), notice the “mark of Cain” in the railing just off of the sidewalk. Needless to say, I did have one remarkably wonderful experience in D.C.
I went to church on Sunday morning to hear Mark Dever preach. This Sunday, Mark broke off from a series in Mark to speak specifically on the nature and doctrine of the church. The sermon was good, though Mark seemed to have a problem (like all Baptists) in seeing the importance of Old Testament in bringing light to the practices of the New Testament, especially in regard to the sacraments and the church. Oh well. It was a delight to hear solid preaching from a conservative scholar, only 3 blocks from the supreme court and capitol building.
Taking a walk to Barry’s house, I noticed that the Smithsonian Museum had a special on evolution. Those of you who know me realize that I contend that evolution is the greatest case of science in a state of dire confusion, just being wrong. I do take slight exception to that rule. While I believe that most people were created by God in God’s image, there are a few rare exceptions to the rule. If you look carefully at the pictures on this sign, you will notice that the “ape” in the lower right hand corner bears a striking resemblance to our current president. Perhaps BHO was a rare exception of the ape to man process?
Barry was a little stand-offish, and would not let me into his house. That’s okay, since I have no interest in visiting him anyway. Little does he know that there is more power in that church down the road (Capitol Hill Baptist) than all the might and military that old B. Hussain O. could ever muster up.
I did not take photos of the American College of Surgeons meeting. It was mostly a dog and pony show, though I learned a bit in the process. Much discussion related to the changing face of surgery. Sadly, most surgeons fail to see that we have brought much trouble on ourselves by letting medicine become a political process. We now are looking to people like BHO to solve our problems and he only makes them worse. Surprise, surprise.
There’s only one thing I really like about Washington, D.C. They have a great subway transportation system. It’s especially helpful when you wish to get out of Washington, D.C. The train takes you straight to the airport, without any hassle. Unfortunately, a moderate number of surgical meetings occur in D.C., meaning that in those years where the meetings take place in D.C., I will probably skip and look for meetings in Florida or Arizona, or Southern Cafilornia (no, that is NOT a mis-spelling!).

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Oct 15

Wilhelm Furtwängler Collection ????
This is the second of three composer collections that I will be reviewing, the first being that of Arturo Toscanini. Furtwängler possesses far greater sensitivity in his conducting that Toscanini. Furtwängler was the director of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra during the second world war years, and was eventually replaced by Herbert von Karajan. It is without hesitation that I could remark on the greatness of Furtwängler as a conductor, in spite of his associations with Hitler and the Nazis. These recordings are quite variable, many of them having much record noise, but many being quite clean. For $17 it is hard to beat as a sampling of Furtwängler. The collection includes mostly classical and romantic composers, with a few non-German composers included.

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Oct 15

Systematic Theology, new Combined Edition, by Louis Berkhof ?????
I had to read portions of Berkhof’s Systematic Theology with a class that I took from JI Packer. The other systematic theology text was Grudem’s Systematic Theology, which had been reviewed previously. Packer contended that Berkhof indeed was the best available systematic theology text, though he says “there is no God in Berkhof”. Since I’ve read Grudem cover to cover, I felt it was now time to do the same with Berkhof, using the combined edition that includes the discussion of the possibility and legitimacy of systematic theology, arguing in defense of the text of Scripture itself. Certainly, both Berkhof and Grudem have their strengths and weaknesses, but I preferred Berkhof over Grudem in most aspects. Yet, there are problems with Berkhof that I would briefly mention.

  1. Many topics are missing, including
    1. Development of the theology of the Holy Spirit. He has a very short section on the Holy Spirit in discussing the topic of soteriology.
    2. Discussion of pertinent aspects of the history of certain doctrines, such as the development of the theology of the trinity, and the Christology controversies
    3. Ethics is an aspect of systematic theology yet is completely missing.
  2. Berkhof spends much time in discussing certain aspects of science and theology, yet is completely outdated. As one example among many, he mentions his continued belief in the ether theory.
  3. Berkhof often belabors topics without reasonable scriptural clarity, leaving a bit of a muddle. One topic was a lengthy discussion of the covenants, which I believe he could have done much better at. His discussion of paedobaptism is ponderous at 10 pages, not well referenced scripturally, and doesn’t accomplish much. It would have been better for him to defer to scriptural silence and leave the practice to best interpretation of what one feels the scripture is saying.

In spite of the above complaints, Berkhof remains an extremely readable text, most conforming to how I see the scriptures. His text remains publicly as the best Reformed theology text available, and is the standard that all subsequent systematic theology texts will have to rise to.
The Addition of the Introductory Volume to the text was a very appropriate addition and well worth reading. In it, Berkhof argues for the rationality for Scripture in opposition of the new liberalism. I had a very strong feeling as though I was reading Francis Schaeffer. I am quite sure that it was from Berkhof that Schaeffer (and VanTil) received their greatest arguments in their apologetic structure for Scripture. Without hesitation, I contend that it would be of value for any and every serious minded Christian in today’s world to take time at some point in their life to work their way through Berkhof. It will be worth the time and most rewarding.

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