Jean-Pierre Adams was a French footballer in the 1970s and 80s, and he passed away on the 6th September, aged 73. But what makes this story remarkable is that for the past 39 years he has been in a coma, looked after tirelessly by his wife. In 1982 he went for routine knee surgery. The anaesthetic, meant to knock him out for a few hours was mis-administered, and he would never regain consciousness.
Last week I came across a remarkable story. Jean-Pierre Adams was a French footballer in the 1970s and 80s, and he passed away on the 6th September, aged 73. He was capped 22 times for France, and was part of a formidable defensive duo for the national side. He played over 250 games for Nice, Nimes and Paris Saint-Germain.
But what makes this story remarkable is that for the past 39 years he has been in a coma, looked after tirelessly by his wife. In 1982 he went for routine knee surgery. The anaesthetic, meant to knock him out for a few hours was mis-administered, and he would never regain consciousness.
At this point his remarkable wife, Bernadette Adams, stepped in. After some months in hospital, and seeing that he had developed infections through bed sores, she took him home. And there for 39 years she has cared for him.
She would sleep in the same room, getting up in the middle of the night to turn him. She would wash, shave, toilet and dress him daily. She prepared his food and fed him. She talked with him, gave him presents. She worked to ensure his muscles were exercised to avoid atrophy and its accompanying pains. She rose at seven each morning, and cared for him until he would fall sleep at around 8pm—if things went well, otherwise it could be all night.
For four decades.
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By Brad Isbell — 10 months ago
We can only speculate as to how he [Machen] might view the de facto revisions of the PCA’s confession and catechisms due to the allowances of “good faith subscription.” One thing is for sure—despite the challenges of the day, PCA confessionalists stand on much firmer ground and have far better prospects than did Machen in the first three and half decades of the 20th century.
J. Gresham Machen was doomed from the start in the Northern church. A virus was inserted into the PCUSA’S denominational source code going back to the mid-late 19th century at least. Add to the doctrinal defects the denomination’s stranglehold on the property of local congregations and you have an inevitable outcome…unless the bad guys leave and take the hit. And how often does this happen? The inertia and self-interest of large organizations usually win, especially when the organization is lavishly funded.
The Charles Augustus Briggs case was the little yellow bird in the mainline presbyterian coal mine. Though Briggs, a minister, professor, and opponent of the verbal inspiration of scripture, was defrocked in 1893, his very presence was a warning. But Briggs* was not just a doctrinal heretic—”Inerrancy is a ghost of modern evangelicalism to frighten children.”—he was also an opponent of that bulwark against error, confessionalism.
Briggs sounded very up-to-date when he “claimed that the contemporary supporters of the Confession had actually distorted the spirit of its teaching. ‘Modern Presbyterianism,’ he charged, ‘had departed from the Westminster Standards’ and a ‘false orthodoxy had obtruded itself’ in its place. That false teaching—what he labeled ‘orthodoxism’—was coming from Princeton Seminary, principally in the defense of biblical authority championed by A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield.”
Briggs was ahead of the game when it comes to a sort of beautiful orthodoxy:
Orthodoxism assumes to know the truth and is unwilling to learn; it is haughty and arrogant, assuming the divine prerogatives of infallibility and inerrancy; it hates the truth that is unfamiliar to it, and prosecutes it to the uttermost. But (ed. note: beautiful?) orthodoxy loves the truth. It is ever anxious to learn, for it knows how greatly the truth of God transcends human knowledge…. It is meek, lowly, and reverent. It is full of charity and love. It does not recognize an infallible pope; it does not bow to an infallible theologian.
The above was quoted by Hart and Muether. Let us see more of what they wrote about this particular turning point in Presbyterian history. Ask yourself, O PCA presbyter, if anything sounds familiar:
Although critical of the alleged innovations from Princeton Seminary, Union Seminary’s Old School rival, Briggs did not advocate merely removing a supposed Princetonian gloss from the Westminster Confession. Presbyterians, he argued, must also acknowledge the inadequacies and errors of the Confession. Since progress was of the essence of genuine Presbyterianism, the Confession itself encouraged its adjustment “to the higher knowledge of our times and the still higher knowledge that the coming period of progress in theology will give us.” Failure to take this step would be to retreat to the errors of Rome and to abandon the very principles of the Reformation.
Briggs was tapping into a growing consensus in the church, which had begun to form no later than the reunion of 1869, that the harder Calvinistic edges of the Confession needed to be softened. In the words of Benjamin J. Lake, “Some of the time-honored rigidity in the Westminster Confession seemed obsolete to many Presbyterians.” Typically, Presbyterian rigidity was spelled p-r-e-d-e-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n.
At the same time, former Old Schoolers feared the rise of “broad churchism” and anticonfessionalism. But if Briggs’s proposals outraged conservatives, the spirit and the terms of the 1869 reunion discouraged efforts to discipline him. (bolding mine)
That reunion was of the previously divided stick-in-the-mud Old Schoolers and go-go, revivalist New Schoolers. The question must be asked: Are the divides in the PCA of today just a repeat (or rhyming soundalike) of the Old School-New School contradictions?
Turning back to Machen, let us notice that “the harder Calvinistic edges of the Confession (which) needed to be softened” were in fact softened to encourage and pave the way for the PCUSA’s absorption of much of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, a sort of revivalist 4-point Calvinist mutant body. In 1903, revisions of a few sections, two added chapters, and a qualifying “declaratory statement” sucked the Calvinistic life out of the Westminster Confession—at least the Northern church’s version. Thus by 1920s, Machen and his allies were working with a confession already diluted and de-fanged. The writing was on the wall.
The PCA and OPC are working with a restored WCF, thanks largely to Machen, who “was not as favorable (as Warfield), describing the 1903 revisions as ‘compromising amendments,’ ‘highly objectionable,’ a ‘calamity,’ and ‘a very serious lowering of the flag’ (Presbyterian Guardian, Nov. 28, 1936, pp. 69-70).”
Machen died soon after penning these words, of course. We can only speculate as to how he might view the de facto revisions of the PCA’s confession and catechisms due to the allowances of “good faith subscription.” One thing is for sure—despite the challenges of the day, PCA confessionalists stand on much firmer ground and have far better prospects than did Machen in the first three and half decades of the 20th century. Let us learn…and live.
Brad Isbell is a ruling elder at Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. This article is used with permission.
*Briggs became an Episcopalian
By Kevin Bauder — 12 months ago
Celebrating the incarnation of our Lord is a good and right thing to do, whether as individuals or as churches. The commercial and cultural celebrations are permissible observances for individual Christians, but they represent an unwarranted intrusion when they are introduced into the ministry and services of the local congregation. They are purely secular (and even pagan) events, appropriately enjoyed for the common grace that they embody. But they are nowhere authorized by Christ or His apostles for inclusion in the leitourgia of the church.
I had to work my way through both college and grad school. Over the years I held a variety of jobs. I worked in a woodshop and a metal fabrication plant. I was a lifeguard at a community swimming pool. For several years I worked in warehouses. I ran a stitching machine in a bindery and a Heidelberg GTO printing press in a printing shop. For a short time I worked as a bicycle mechanic. On different occasions I worked jobs in sales. There was a brief stint as a telemarketer (until I figured out what that really meant) and a summer on the floor of an appliance store. One of the more profitable jobs was selling toys in a department store.
My employment in the toy department began in July. From the first day it was clear that we were planning for Christmas. Almost all of the department’s income would come from Christmas sales. By July we were already putting stock on the shelves for the holidays, and the manager had already worked out his pricing strategy.
He was sure that we could not compete for volume with the discount stores. Their pricing was so low that they would drive us out of business. So he deliberately priced his stock high—very high. People would come by, look at our toys, and walk right out the door, sometimes with a snide remark about how overpriced we were. I could barely make my draw in sales every week. I seriously wondered whether the manager knew what he was doing.
He did. Our sales continued to sag into November, which is when the discount stores ran out of the more popular toys. People would walk through our department, shake their heads at our prices, then walk away muttering about finding a lower price somewhere. But they couldn’t, because nobody else had the toys at any price.
Thanksgiving weekend is when panic struck the shopping public. I can remember standing behind a cash register for ten hours straight, servicing a long line of people who were now ready to pay our prices. They were not happy about it. Some of them accused us of inflating our prices at the last moment. But we hadn’t—the prices were right where they had been since July.
By Sarah Ivill — 2 months ago
Perhaps today you are experiencing a difficult season and you feel like the Lord is asleep instead of coming to your aid. Let Psalm 44 encourage you. Look with eyes of faith to the Lord and affirm, “You are my King, O God” (v. 4). Take comfort in the truth that He ordains your suffering (v. 19). And cry out to Him, “Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love” (v. 26).
It had been a hot summer in the south, but the heat didn’t match that of my own heart. I felt like I was trying to walk through a desert with no water, or slug through mud without getting anywhere. Years of battling chronic pain had worn me down. A ministry plan that didn’t materialize the way I had hoped had eroded my confidence to continue writing, teaching and speaking. I was raising four children, ranging from ten years to six months, and I was homeschooling the older two. I felt very much in need of help. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I cried out to the Lord and I studied Scripture. Through the study of the psalms, like Psalm 44, the Lord came to my aid.
You also know what it is to like to be in need of help, don’t you? Whether it’s a strained relationship, financial difficulty, unemployment, illness or injury, a hard season of ministry, parenting challenges, or marital strife, all of us have cried for aid at times. Perhaps even today you are crying for someone to assist you. Be encouraged, dear believer. Our great King will come to our help in the midst of difficulty.
Delight in the Past
Psalm 44 begins, “O God…our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days…for you delighted in them” (vv. 1, 3). The psalmist’s confidence in the Lord is rooted in the delight He showed Israel in the past. He chose them as the apple of His eye and entered into a relationship with them. The Lord chose Israel to be His treasured possession because He loved them and had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He delivered them from Egypt and gave them the land of Canaan. They won victories by His strength, not their own. Such magnificent stories of redemption were passed from generation to generation in order to encourage the people’s faith.