Monday, September 15, 2014

TSB2 Overview

This post provides information on my 2nd Tecmo Super Bowl (TSB) tournament which will take place at the Hess Road Wesleyan Church on September 21st. Pizza, chips & drinks will be provided at 5pm right as the tournament begins (donations to cover cost will be accepted, but are not expected).We will likely be using 3 systems/screens (3 games will be going at once) so as to prevent the tournament from lasting all night. The tournament should take approximately 3 hours. 

General Rules: We will be using the original version of Tecmo Super Bowl, but with a combination of systems (including original NES & Wii). Competitors are free to make in-game changes (like to their starting lineup) but no out-of-game changes (like to their teams playbook). I am anticipating a turnout of 7-10 competitors. The following formats will be used depending on # of attendees:

If 7 show up then each player will pick 4 TSB teams (using a snake draft). Everyone will play everyone else (6 games). No championship game will be necessary if 1 player sits alone at the top of the standings at the end. If there is a tie at the top of the standings, the top 2 teams (using point differential as a tie-breaker) will play for the championship. Each player may NOT use any of their teams more than twice during the tournament.

If 8 show up then each player will pick 3 TSB teams (using a snake draft). There will be 2 randomly selected divisions. Each player will play everyone in their division (3 games). Players must use all 3 of their teams during this time. The top 2 teams from each division (point differential used to break ties) will make the playoffs (with division winners playing non division winners). Players must NOT use a team twice during the playoff.

If 9 show up then each player will pick 3 TSB teams (using a snake draft). There will be 3 randomly selected divisions. Each player will play everyone in their division (2 games). Each division winner advances to the playoffs. In addition, one wild-card will be determined by record and then point differential. Seeding will be determined by record and then point differential as well. Players can NOT use a team more than twice during tournament.

If 10 show up then each player will pick 2 TSB teams (using a snake draft). There will be 2 randomly selected divisions. Each player will play everyone in their division (4 games) during which each of their teams must be used twice. The top 2 teams from each division (using record and then point differential as the tie breaker if necessary) will make the playoffs (with division winners playing non division winners). Before the playoff, there will be a re-draft of TSB teams beginning with the top seed (based on record and then point differential) picking 1st in each round.   

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wesley Sermon #15


Christians fight over doctrines far too often… and it’s not just about trivial matters. We even fight over core truths of the faith. For instance, we fight over the definition of Christ’s righteousness and the details of its transfer to us. I intend, in this message, to clearly communicate my understanding of these issues so as to provoke unity.

The righteousness of Christ refers, chiefly, to his human righteousness. Christ was both inwardly and outwardly righteous; He refrained from all sin and did all that the Father asked him to do. Christ’s righteousness is put on our account when we fallen humans repent of our own lack of righteousness and put our faith in his.

The exact language we use to express these truths is less important than the fact that we do humbly depend on Christ for our very life. I’m convinced that much of our fighting is over semantics. We simply fail to truly understand our brothers and sisters. We don’t listen and, therefore, don’t realize they are saying much the same thing with slightly different words.

One reason why our movement has sometimes been reluctant to use certain phrases regarding this doctrine is that we have been afraid to encourage a lackadaisical attitude toward sin. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness upon us is no excuse for not allowing the Spirit to implant righteousness in us. Forgive us this fear and let’s unite together in service of our great Master!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wesley Sermon #14

To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness (Romans 4:5)

The question of how to be justified before God is of great importance, yet many are confused and deceived about the purpose, definition, target, and terms of justification.

The purpose of justification is not about making us practically righteous (that is sanctification). Justification is what God does for us (not in us). It is the undoing of Adam, the means by which we are represented by Christ and not him.

The nature of justification is pardon. Most generally and plainly, justification is about the forgiveness of past sin.

The target of justification is sinners. Previous to justification, sinners may do ‘good’ deeds in one sense, but such acts are not truly good deeds until they are done in the love of God on the basis of faith. We must recognize our need (as sinners) in order to be justified.

The term of Justification is faith in Christ. Faith consists of trust in Jesus… trusting that He ‘died for my sins, that he loved me, and gave himself for me.’ It is only after faith that truly good works begin. Faith is the only condition of justification… and the only thing that works (thus removing all basis for pride).

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

3 Opinions

3 Opinions About the Relationship between Football and Not Football

NFL player Ray Rice committed domestic violence. He got suspended for 2 games by the NFL. Video footage showing the attack was released. Then he got released from his team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Many have reacted passionately about this, taking the position that the NFL should have done far more, far sooner. I have 3 opinions about these reactions.

My first opinion is one I’ve held a long time. Americans idolize sports. Sports, particularly the NFL, have become a god in our culture. We plan our schedules around them, talk about them 24/7, and, most on point to the current discussion, we idolize the players. This makes zero sense. We don’t know, in almost all cases, what kinds of men they are. We shouldn’t think of them as role models. It’s because football is an idol industry that what these players do off the field is even on the radar. It’s because it’s an idol industry that the NFL even has a vested interest in protecting their brand from bad characters.

My second opinion follows from the first. If we would stop idolizing sports and idolizing athletes, the NFL wouldn’t really have a role to play in regards to non-football related player conduct. Football is just a sport. The only discipline the NFL should deal with is that which relates to football games. Why do we look to the NFL to be some sort of moral voice in our culture? Is it because we’ve rejected other, more legitimate moral voices? Are we filling a void? It’s absurd! Are we really going to express moral outrage over domestic violence today because Ray Rice got caught (as opposed to every other day when it goes on in our own towns and cities)? Is he our scapegoat? Is the NFL? Are we venting the rage we feel towards ourselves for doing less about violence we might encounter in our own real-life context?

My third opinion follows from the first and second. There are much better means to address these issues than to have an institution like the NFL try to address them. First, we have the legal process. One of the most ridiculous opinions I’ve heard recently is the call for the NFL to suspend players thaT haven’t even been found guilty in the legal system yet! On what grounds? We have to give our justice system the opportunity to do its job. Sometimes that system fails. But all is not lost in such situations. There are other means to oppose evil. An NFL owner with integrity, in such a scenario, could boldly kick such a player off his team. A GM with integrity could do the same. The teammates of the player could refuse to play with him (forcing the hand of the owner and/or GM). The fans could choose to boycott. The clearer the facts, the more live the above options become (and that’s just the way it should be). 

The way forward is not for the NFL leadership to become better at policing their players. The way forward is for those worshiping football to just become fans again (at most). The way forward is for NFL leadership to stop taking themselves so seriously and, instead, focus on the fact that they are in charge of a GAME. The way forward  is for people of integrity, at all levels, to stand up for what is right and against what is wrong… on a daily basis.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Jacob Arminius

I feel comfortable calling myself an Arminian, but I've never read any works by the man behind the label . Now, at least, I've read a book specifically about him. The authors of this book set out to write a "one-stop source of information for ministers and theologians interested in Arminius." Some of you might be wondering... who is Arminius? Jacob Arminius (1559-1609) was a Dutch theologian whose theology is known today as an alternative to that developed by John Calvin.

The book begins by commenting on the general neglect or misunderstanding of Arminius. Too many people take him to be a heretic or a saint without actually knowing anything about the man and his beliefs. The authors want to provide an objective, contextual & comprehensive resource to counter these deficiencies.

Chapter 1 is biographical in nature. It briefly tells of his development, influences, controversies, and eventual death (due to what was probably tuberculosis) at about 50 years old. This information sets the context for the next 3 chapters which are devoted to his theology (chapter 2 on God & creation, chapter 3 on providence and predestination, and chapter 4 on sin and salvation). Rather than trying to provide an overview of their overview, I'm going to comment (below) on the things that stuck me throughout these chapters:

1. I was interested to find out that Arminius has a set of 10 axioms and arguments for God's existence. The book does not list them, but points to where they may be obtained.
2. The authors represent Arminius as being far, in his theology, from what today would be called open-theism. Arminius held to classic theism. Their section on God's impassibility and immutability left much to be desired, in my opinion. They (and apparently Arminius) too easily dismissed the concerns of contemporary open theism.
3. They suggest that Arminius endorsed the molinist view (middle-knowledge). As I said, I've not read Arminius. I do know, however, the Roger Olson is an Arminius scholar. And he is not so sure that Arminius held to molinism. Overall, it seemed like the authors were, themselves, Molinists.
4. I had mixed feelings about the section on the Trinity. I liked the footnote (#216) which stated that there were some lingering questions regarding Arminius' Trinitarian theology because he inherited a problem and while furthering the discussion did not fully resolve the issues.

5. Arminius believed in libertarian freedom, but it wasn't a priority in his theology. The priority was the character of God.
6. It was his defense of the character of God that led Arminius to refute the doctrine of supralapsarianism (the idea that God pre-ordained certain individuals to everlasting life and others to eternal destruction without any regard whatsoever to their future lives).
7. Arminius finds love at the core of his doctrine of God. Even God's hatred toward sin (and wrath) is a contingent expression of God's holy love.
8. Liked these quotes a lot: "Arminius refers to Christ as the foundation of election, not merely a means for election." "Being in Christ, therefore, is the conditional basis for election and salvation."

9. Arminius believed in the doctrine of original sin, but not in the exact way of Augustine. Instead, original sin was primarily viewed as a lack of original righteousness. It passes on consequences (punishment), but not guilt.
10. The authors somewhat helpfully flesh out the meaning and reasons for believing in the doctrine of prevenient grace.
11. Arminius emphasizes God's desire to partner with people. Grace is not coercive. God does not perfect us without us.
12. A recurring theme is that humans have to opt-out of God's grace (especially since it is extended to all).
13. Arminius may not, fairly, be called a Pelagian. It is doubtful, even, that he could rightly be considered a semi-Pelagian. For Arminius, grace always precedes progress.
14. Arminius had helpful and healthy ways of distinguishing between justification and sanctification. The link between them is faith (the reception of grace).
15. As a minister, Arminius was concerned to help people who had no sense of assurance of salvation, but he was also bothered by those who took it for granted despite any commitment to sanctification.
16. The Latin word for security (as in 'eternal security') literally means 'carelessness.' Arminius was adamant that nobody treating their Christian life carelessly should have any sense of assurance.

The authors conclude the book by telling the story of what happened after Arminius' death. His followers (the Remonstrants) continued to develop his theology (sometimes in directions he probably wouldn't have agreed with). His theology was officially opposed (at the Synod of Dordt, for instance) by some Christians, while others (like the Methodists) endorsed it whole-heartedly. In the end, Arminius has proven to be a very influential theologian, one who provided a legitimate alternative to certain elements of Calvinist theology.

Again, having not read Arminius directly, I can hardly comment on how well they have summarized his life and theology into 1 readable volume. It may be that I have some slight disagreements with Arminius (who agrees with anyone completely???). It may be that the authors are wrong about Arminius on a minor point here or there (or simply wrong in their emphasis). But, overall, I'd say this is a helpful resource and one that I would recommend for introducing someone to Jacob Arminius.