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Thursday, April 22, 2010, 9:25 AM
My my my my my.
Everybody: My my my my …
Here’s the thing: when it comes to discussing things Christian on the Web, there are certain key words or phrases that might as well be button-like icons that, when clicked on, guarantee a programmed response.
Monday, April 19, 2010, 10:34 AM
Are we born damned or merely damnable? Did God choose a predetermined number of human beings to bring to ultimate bliss, and alternatively select a predetermined and far more numerous group of humans on whom to inflict incalculable eternal suffering, before the world was even made, before a fall from grace, before anyone could in fact do anything—just to increase his “glory”? Or is election to salvation based on foreseen merit or faith—or both? Damned if I know—but don’t miss Jonathan’s Baer’s excellent review of Peter Thuesen’s equally excellent Predestination: The American Career of a Christian Doctrine. You may not get the answers you want, but you’ll know all the right questions to ask.
For many onlookers, to parse the grammar of predestination is akin to calculating the age of the earth from Genesis 1-3—it’s to read poetry through prose-colored glasses. But for others, namely theo-geeks like me, who remain entangled in this theological hairsplitting, much is at stake—namely, what kind of God is it that we worship? How can we relate honestly his intentions to unbelievers if we don’t know whether the deck has been stacked against us? And are we free in any meaningful sense—or are we trapped in a play in which by the final act, as in Hamlet, almost all are doomed?
Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 8:54 AM
M. Craig Barnes is among my favorite writer-pastors. A mainliner (PCUSA) and so not as well-known, perhaps, as John Piper or Tim Keller or Mark Driscoll among evangelicals, Barnes, former senior pastor of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and currently same at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, is a rock-solid preacher of the gospel, which is to say, the forgiveness of sins to be found in Christ through faith alone.
I have read virtually everything the man has published, and his masterwork, When God Interrupts, several times. If you’re at a point in your life where you fear every light at the end of the tunnel is just another train headed straight for you, buy this book. It is neither pap to prop up your spirits, nor condemnation of your pity party, but an honest assessment of the work of the Spirit in the life of a believer. A life that can surprise you with its terrifying recalibration of your plans—and that surprises you again when you realize that this may very well be what God had in mind all along.
In a recent sermon, entitled “The Judas Chromosome,” Barnes calls out a small detail in the Last Supper. Recounting the different explanations for Judas’ betrayal—greed, disappointed political ambitions—Barnes says:
Friday, March 26, 2010, 10:26 AM
What reality? Evolution—should the data become “overwhelmingly in favor.” So says Professor Bruce Waltke, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Reformed Theological Seminary, in a video from the BioLogos Foundation, posted by Chaplain Mike at the Internet Monk blog.
Given the resistance to the idea of evolution by many (not all) Reformed folk, this seems like a dicey proposition. But, in fact, there were early, cautious advocates of evolutionary theory in the Reformed camp—B.B. Warfield, known also for his high view of scriptural inerrancy, being one. (Evolutionary theory being something separate from Darwinism as an ideology, it should be added.)
So are we being asked to have Scripture’s account of the beginning of all things judged by worldly wisdom, and thereby opening a fissure in the rock of our assurance that God had spoken to us in his Word authoritatively and perfectly? Only if we insist that we know what the intention of the biblical authors was when enscripturating that Word in the first place.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 10:40 AM
[Note: Cross-posted from First Thoughts.]
So, like many in the Christian blogosphere, I’ve been a regular reader of Michael Spencer’s Internet Monk and Boar’s Head Tavern blogs for years, my clicking those links with an obsessive-compulsive fury. And although BHT is a group blog, it was inevitably Michael’s contributions that would set the direction of discussion. And that direction was always somewhere to the hinterlands of perilous discourse where many an “orthodox” Christian writer dared not go.
A Baptist who questioned the theological status quo and who was open to wisdom from other traditions—Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran— Michael broadened the online discussion beyond the typically boorish and petty blog wars and enabled exhausted Christians to vent their frustrations about not just this or that controversial doctrine but also about how hard life was being a “child of the King.”
Anyone familiar with that trope will know what I mean. If you have spent any time in the evangelical world, you have inevitably been told that, as a child of the King, you are entitled to certain privileges. And those privileges entail getting your needs met. And the key that opens the supply line is faith.
Thursday, March 18, 2010, 10:36 AM
This is primarily to the Lutherans out there, although I think the question pertinent to many Evangelicals as well: What think ye of the Sabbath rest today? Even though we lay under a new dispensation, are we still not instructed to rest from our labors on the Lord’s Day, the new Sabbath for a new people? Is the New Covenant one that abrogates Sabbath-keeping so as to inflict on us a seven-day workweek or a new Son’s Day that looks like the old Monday?
Is it law to keep the Sabbath, to refrain from work, to refrain even from, say, shopping for ephemera or going to a ballgame or a movie?
I ask because I grew up with the idea that Sunday was simply that day in which you jammed a one-hour and twenty-minute liturgy into your schedule and you were good to go. Strict church attendance was emphasized to an almost legalistic degree, but preparation for receiving Holy Communion or what we were to do after the service was almost never addressed.
Luther, in his Large Catechism, addresses the Sabbath in his explication of the Fourth Commandment, and in so doing seems to interpret Sunday “observance” as little more than an accommodation to the poor and working classes, and for the purpose of maintaining some kind of “order”:
Tuesday, October 20, 2009, 1:08 PM
What is an evangelical? In a word: imputation. If there is one animating idea that separates evangelicals most precisely from Catholic, Orthodox, and mainline Christians, and from the rest of the world’s religions, needless to say, it’s that Christ’s righteousness is imputed, not imparted, to the believer, so that the Christian, while still a sinner, nevertheless stands justified in God’s sight for Christ’s sake. We cannot become more or less justified, anymore than Christ can become more or less the final, perfect sacrifice for sin who has paid in full the debt owed to God for the cost of sin.
If we are in Christ, by faith, then all that is Christ’s is ours, and all that is ours, namely the charges against us, are His.
Herein is true freedom, victory, and royal dignity. As Luther, the original evangelical, stated so elegantly: