Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Here Powlison answers question 8 of 15:
Thursday, March 29, 2007
See also this helpful NT exegesis bibliography by Craig Blomberg and William Klein.
If only we could learn to preach like Peter and Paul. The wish becomes solid reality in Dennis Johnson’s wonderful advocacy of preaching Jesus Christ in the twenty-first century as the apostles did in the first. Under Johnson’s tutelage, preaching apostolic, Christ-centered, redemptive-historical, missiological sermons that are grace driven becomes a dream within reach.
President and Professor of Practical Theology
Covenant Theological Seminary
Author, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon
Him We Proclaim is a masterful work that should help preachers to understand the necessary interplay between hermeneutics and homiletics that results from a comprehensive biblical theology and a deep commitment to preaching the Word of God. This book holds the promise of the recovery of biblical preaching for those who will give themselves to the demanding and glorious task of setting each text within the context of God’s redemptive plan. This is a book that belongs on every preacher’s bookshelf.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Him We Proclaim is by far the most comprehensive study of what the Bible says about preaching. Through a very wide-angle lens, Johnson is able to show that none of the popular theories of preaching says everything that should be said; but each has some insights and can
be seen as an aspect of the biblical picture. The book also gives a clear and full account of the hermeneutical questions that preachers must deal with. Johnson’s arguments are cogent, his evaluations sound. If I could have only one book on preaching, this would be the one.
John M. Frame
J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy
Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
Every once in a while, a book comes along that is truly worth reading, and Dennis Johnson’s meaty volume, Him We Proclaim, is one of them. Although this work is indeed about preaching, it is no mere homiletics manual, for Johnson provides rich exegetical fare and incisive theological reflection in an understandable, literate style. In an area where considerable disagreement exists, the author’s commitments are clear, but he refuses to be drawn to extreme positions, and his irenic treatment of competing views can only affect the discussion in a positive way. Even those who may not be fully persuaded by Johnson’s arguments will be deeply grateful by what they have learned.
Formerly Professor of New Testament
Westminster Theological Seminary
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Dennis Johnson has written a magnificent book that magnifies Christ in all of Scripture. Every preacher and teacher of the Scriptures should read this gem of the book. Johnson convincingly explains and defends the thesis that Christ should be proclaimed from all of Scripture. But he also illustrates with specific examples what it looks like to proclaim Christ in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. This book is exegetically faithful, theologically profound, and practically helpful. I wish I had a read a book like this when I started my theological education thirty years ago.
Thomas R. Schreiner
James Buchanan Harrison Professor of
New Testament Interpretation
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Apostolic hermeneutics? Dare we read the Scripture backward as well as forward? Dennis Johnson’s answer is a marvelously informed, and convincing “yes!” Yes, we can read and interpret and teach as the apostles did. Him We Proclaim is sure to be widely read and discussed both in the academy and by groups of serious-minded preachers of the Word. Sure to become a staple in the homiletical discussion of the twenty-first century.
R. Kent Hughes
Senior Pastor Emeritus
College Church, Wheaton, Illinois
This book is dedicated to the memory of Edmund Clowney, who inspired many of us to find and preach Christ in all the Scriptures. Clowney was a brilliant practitioner of Christocentric preaching. The question for the rest of us is how to do it well. In a wide-ranging discussion, Dennis Johnson brings his deep knowledge of the Bible and hermeneutics together with his experience and teaching of preaching to reflect on just this question. One need not agree with all his arguments or assumptions to appreciate the value and importance of what Johnson offers as the fruit of years of wise reflection and practice. The first part of his work defends the whole enterprise of Christological interpretation and preaching in the light of issues in present-day biblical scholarship and homiletical debates. Not content simply to theorize, he provides extended expositions of apostolic preaching and teaching, samples of Christological readings of OT and NT passages, and an appendix proposing basic procedures for moving from text to Christological proclamation. There is much, then, to stimulate thought and to give practical help in this major contribution. Not the least part of that contribution is Johnson’s persuasive argument that preaching that makes Christ its primary focus should at the same time be preaching that addresses the needs of its hearers in their particular cultural setting.
Andrew T. Lincoln
Portland Professor of New Testament
University of Gloucestershire
This is an important book, a timely book much in need of being written and one that will be read with the greatest profit. This is especially so for those who, committed to a redemptive- or covenant-historical reading of the Bible, recognize and seek to honor and proclaim as its central theme, Old Testament as well New, Christ in his person and work as the consummate revelation of the triune God. This magnum opus, written out of the author’s many years’ experience of wrestling with and teaching seminarians how to preach Christ from all of Scripture, is at the same time as much a book about sound biblical interpretation. His key contention is “that the apostolic preachers through whom God gave us the New Testament normatively define not only the content that twenty-first century preachers are to proclaim, but also the hermeneutic method by which we interpret the Scriptures and the homiletic method by which we communicate God’s message to our contemporaries.” This dual hermeneutical-homiletic program is articulated at considerable length and worked out with many examples, always with
an eye to the ultimate goal of preaching. In particular, concerning the use of the Old Testament in the New, about which currently among evangelicals there is considerable confusion or uncertainty that threatens, however inadvertently but nonetheless inevitably, to obscure the clarity of the Bible and undermine its full authority as God’s word, Johnson takes us a good distance along the only constructive way forward. For this we are greatly in his debt.
Richard B. Gaffin Jr.
Charles Krahe Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology
Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia
6. Does each person have one "root sin"?
Carl Trueman asks Where (or How) Is Authenticity to Be Found?
The Bible writers clearly appreciated the need for complex literary forms to give full expression to complex theological ideas and to the complexity of life in covenant with God in a fallen world. Theological curricula, at home, at seminary, and at church, should surely take the forms of the Bible’s teaching with similar seriousness to that with which they take the basic content (to the extent that it is even possible to separate them). Only then can we avoid the reduction of biblical wisdom to bumper sticker slogans; only then will our theology find authentic expression.Miles Van Pelt reviews Graeme Goldsworthy's Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics
This reviewer enthusiastically recommends Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics for both personal and classroom use. Note, however, that it is not a book best handled with casual reading. Rather, it is the type of book that must be approached with a certain level of hermeneutical angst and a willingness to perceive one’s own hermeneutical shortcomings. It is also the type of book that should be read more than once, perhaps annually for a decade or so. I conclude by expressing my sincere thanks and gratitude to the author for all of his hard work for our benefit.Mark Johnston reviews the four views book on The Nature of the Atonement:
A good debate is not merely about making a case; it’s about marshalling the evidence and winning the argument. If that is so, then Thomas Schreiner wins hands down in this one.Paul Helm reviews Roger Olson's book on Arminian Theology:
The book is a strange mixture; it contains a good deal of interesting information about the history of Arminianism and of Arminian theologians. But it is somewhat unbalanced in its theological judgements and, for an academic treatment, too gossipy in tone. Yet it has this virtue: it makes clear that no amount of fudge can seal the gap between Arminianism and Augustinianism. (66) Some years ago Alan P. F. Sell wrote a book on the Calvinist-Arminian controversy, The Great Debate (Walter, 1982). So it is still.Phil Ryken meditates on the return of King Tut--to Philadelphia.
Derek Thomas thinks through adiaphora and what we wear.
Michael Travers asks why there is poetry in the Bible.
At takeupandread.com our goal is to sift through the thousands of good volumes to recommend the very best literature for your time and money. Our goal is to expose you to historically important volumes, old books that are timeless in application, excellent contemporary books hot off the press, multi-volume facsimile reproductions, small single-volume books you can read in one day, and searchable electronic books on CD-ROM. Our weekly reviews are published in the hopes of helping you build a diverse library of Christian volumes with tested theology and reliability.
Also be sure to read this great reading interview with Tony Reinke, the guy behind the "take up and read" site.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
5. Is the phrase "lusts of the flesh" useful in practical life and counseling?
4. Why don't people see this as the problem?
Consider a second adjective that Scripture attaches to the phrase "lusts of the flesh": deceitful lusts. Our desires deceive us because they present themselves as so plausible. Natural affections become warped and monstrous, and so blind us. Who wouldn't want good health, financial comfort, a loving spouse, good kids, success on the job, kind parents, tasty food, a life without traffic jams, control over circumstances? Yet cravings for these things lead to every sort of evil. The things people desire are delightful as blessings received from God, but terrible as rulers. They make good goods but bad gods.They beguile, promising blessing, but delivering sin and death.
The Challenge of the New Perspective to Biblical Justification
Guests: John Piper and Ligon Duncan
The Centrality of the Church in the Christian Life
Guests: Mark Dever and C. J. Mahaney
That's the title of a forthcoming book by Dennis Johnson, professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary California.
Him We Proclaim advocates the Christ-centered, redemptive-historical, missiologically-communicated, grace-grounded method of Bible interpretation that the apostles learned from Jesus and practiced in their Gospel proclamation. Moving beyond theory, it shows how apostolic preaching opens up various biblical texts: history, law, wisdom, psalm, prophecy, parable, doctrine, exhortation, and apocalyptic vision.
Dennis Johnson has written a magnificent book that magnifies Christ in all of scripture. Every preacher and teacher of the Scriptures should read this gem of the book. Johnson convincingly explains and defends the thesis that Christ should be proclaimed from all of Scripture. But he also illustrates with specific examples what it looks like to proclaim Christ in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. This book is exegetically faithful, theologically profound, and practically helpful. I wish I had read a book like this when I started my theological education thirty years ago.--Thomas R. Schreiner
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
2. Why do people do specific ungodly things?
Lusts of the flesh is meant to answer the Why question at the heart of any system that explains human behavior. Specific ruling desires--lusts, cravings, or pleasures--create bad fruit. Inordinate desires explain and organize diverse bad fruit: words, deeds, emotions, thoughts, plans, attitudes, brooding memories, fantasies. James 1:13-16 establishes this intimate and pervasive connection between motive and fruit this way: "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." (See also Gal. 5:6-6:10; James 3:14-4:12.)
In modern language such sinful cravings often masquerade as expectations, goals, felt needs, wishes, demands, longings, drives, and so forth. People talk about their motives in ways that anesthetize themselves and others to the true significance of what they are describing.
Amillennialism and the Millennial Kingdom of Revelation 20 (2)
Powlison does a helpful Q&A on the concept of "the lusts of the flesh." Here is the first of fifteen questions. I'd encourage a careful reading and meditation upon these biblical, transforming concepts.
1. How does the New Testament commonly talk about what's wrong with people?
Lusts of the flesh (cravings or pleasures) is a summary term for what is wrong with us in God's eyes. In sin, people turn from God to serve what they want. By grace, people turn to God from their cravings. According to the Lord's assessment, we all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind (Eph. 2:3). Those outside of Christ are thoroughly controlled by want they want. ("Of course I live for money, reputation, success, looks, and love. What else is there to live for?") And the most significant inner conflict in Christians is between what the Spirit wants and what we want.
But the term "lust" has become almost useless to modern readers of the Bible. It is reduced to sexual desire. Take a poll of the people in your church, asking them the meaning of "lusts of the flesh." Sex will appear on every list. Greed, pride, gluttonous craving, or mammon worship might be added in the answers of a few of the more thoughtful believers. But the subtleties and details are washed out, and a crucial biblical term for explaining human life languishes. In contrast, the New Testament writers use this term as a comprehensive category for the human dilemma! It will pay us to think carefully about its manifold meanings. We need to expand the meaning of a term that has been truncated and drained of significance. We need to learn to understand life though these lenses, and to use these categories skillfully.
The New Testament repeatedly focuses on the "lusts of the flesh" as a summary of what is wrong with the human heart that underlies bad behavior. For example, 1 John 2:16 contrasts the love of the Father with "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life." (See also Rom. 13:14; Gal. 5:16-17; Eph. 2:2; 4:22; James 1:14-15; 4:1-3; 1 Pet. 1:14; 2 Pet. 1:4). This does not mean that the New Testament is internalistic. In each of these passages, behavior intimately connects to motive, and motive to behavior. Wise counselors follow the model of Scripture and move back and forth between lusts of the flesh and the tangible works of the flesh, between faith and the tangible fruit of the Spirit.
 The OT typically focuses on idolatry as the way people go astray. This doesn't mean that the OT is externalistic. Visible idolatry simple registers, for all to see, the failure to love the Lord God with heart, soul, mind, and might; it registers an internal defection. There are places where the problem of idolatry is turned into a metaphor for the most basic internalized sin (see Ezek. 14), and visible idolatry always expressed a defection of heart from God. There are places where the human heart is described as insane (Eccl. 9:3), evil (Gen. 6:5), full of cravings and lies (Num. 11-25). Idolatry can summarize every false, life-controlling master (1 John 5:21).
 We often hear warnings against externalistic religion. But internalistic religion creates equally serious problems. Christians often seek some experience of feeling, some sense of total brokenness, some comprehensive inward transformation--and miss that biblical change is practical and progressive, inside and out.
Monday, March 26, 2007
I'd strongly encourage you to read these carefully. I think this is excellent, edifying, biblical material that has the potential to transform paradigms and life.
Here's an introduction to Powlison's material on a biblical understanding of desire and motivation:
What do you crave, want, pursue, wish, long for, hope to get, feel you need, or passionately desire? God has an interpretation of this that cuts to the marrow of who you are and what you live for. He sees our hearts as an embattled kingdom ruled either by one kind of desire or by another kind. On the one hand, what lusts of the flesh hijack your heart from God's rule? On the other hand, what holy passions express your love for God? Our desires are not a given, but a fundamental choice. Desires are most often unruly, disorderly, inordinate affections for XYZ, a good thing that I insanely need. Sometimes they are natural affections for xyz, made sane and orderly by subordination to passionate love for God that claims my heart, soul, mind, and might. Our desires are often idolatrous cravings to get good gifts (overthrowing or ignoring the Giver). Sometimes they are intense desires for the Giver himself as supremely more important than whatever good gifts we might gain or lose from his hand.
That's the first unique thing God shows us about human psychology. This cosmic battleground is something none of the secular psychologists have seen or can see, because they can't see that deeply into why we do what we do. Their own motives give them reasons not to want to see that deeply and honestly. It would mean admitting sin.
To examine desires is one of the most fruitful ways to come at the topic of motivation biblically. New Testament authors repeatedly allude to life-controlling cravings when they summarize the innermost dynamics of the human soul. Which will triumph, the natural deviancy of the lusts of the flesh or the restored sanity of the desires of the Spirit? Christ's apostles have the greatest confidence that only the resources of the Gospel of grace and truth possess sufficient depth and power to change us in the ways we most need changing. The mercies of God work to forgive and then to change what is deeply evil, but even more deeply curable by God's hand and voice. The in-working power of grace qualitatively transforms the very desires that psychologists assume are hardwired, unchangeable, morally neutral givens. Christ's glance slays and replaces (in a lifelong battle) the very lusts the theories variously explain as "needs" or "drives" or "instincts" or "goals."
That's the second unique thing God shows us about human psychology. We can be fundamentally rewired by the merciful presence of the Messiah. None of the secular psychologists say this or can say this. They have no power to address us so deeply, and they don't want to address us at the level of what we (and they) live for. It would mean confessing Christ.
We will use a series of fifteen questions to probe the world of our desires.
Paul Helm writes on his blog:
I hope in future to begin a series of short discussions on themes and topics in theology on which, it seems to me, philosophy can be of some assistance. These will be headed ‘Analysis’, after the philosophy journal of that name, which is devoted to publishing short discussions.
The first three or four (perhaps more) will be on the general theme:
Systematic Theology: Since It Isn’t Broken, We Ought Not To Try To Fix It.
One increasingly meets basic misunderstandings about Reformed systematic theology: of what it is, what it attempts to do, what its limits are, and where its abiding value lies. Proposals that are made for developing new methods in systematic theology would often amount to changing its entire character while retaining the name. These brief discussions will attempt to highlight misunderstandings and to allay some fears. This this is how I hope it’ll go:
• Analysis 1 - What definitions do and don’t do, April.
• Analysis 2 -
Propositions and Speech Acts, May.
• Analysis 3 -
Biblical and Systematic Theology, June.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Mr. Zuckerberg's creation, an Internet service that allows students to post personal information and photos, is nothing short of a twister sweeping college campuses, keeping millions up to date on their friends' lives and dating status. There was a reputed $1 billion plus offer from Yahoo!, turned down, natch. Even more remarkable is that Mr. Zuckerberg is all of 22 years old. What is it that made Facebook become so valuable in less than three years? And will 22-year-olds with 200 employees come up with all the good ideas from now on?
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Mohler to discuss controversial blog on ABC World News
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is scheduled to be featured tonight on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson. Correspondent Dan Harris and his crew spent much of Thursday on Southern Seminary’s campus taping the story, which deals with Dr. Mohler’s controversial blog on homosexuality and biology, and the reaction to it. ABC’s World News airs at 6:30 PM Eastern Time. Stories scheduled for air are subject to change without notice.
The story by ABC News correspondent Dan Harris featuring Southern Seminary President, R. Albert Mohler Jr, which was scheduled to air tonight on World News with Charles Gibson, has been postponed. The network says the story will be rescheduled for next week.
Apparently Dawkins was scheduled to debate Rod Liddell, but he had to pull out at the last minute. Dawkins suggested McGrath as a replacement. The event sold out right away, as this is the first time these two have been able to participate in a lengthy debate.
If audio or video becomes available, let me know. And do remember to pray for Professor McGrath.
Here's what's already available:
Kelly Kapic, Communion with God: The Divine and the Human in the Theology of John Owen, published by Baker Academic. Here is the table of contents: (1) The Lingering Shadow of John Owen; (2) Created to Commune with God: Owen’s Formulation of the Imago Dei; (3) Humanity Actualized: The Relationship between the Incarnation and Fallen Humanity; (4) Reconciling God and Humanity: Looking at the Question of Justification; (5) Communion with the Triune God: God’s Being and Action Informing Human Response; (6) Signs of Continuing Communion: Lord’s Day and Lord’s Supper; (7) Epilogue; (8) Appendix: Comparing Westminster Standards and John Owen on Humanity (Jesus’s and Ours). (Excerpt online.)Here's what's coming:
Alan Spence, Incarnation and Inspiration: John Owen and the Coherence of Christology, published by T&T Clark (yep, it's really that expensive!) The chapter titles are (1) Two Ways of Thinking about Christ; (2) Incarnation; (3) Inspiration; (4) The Mediator; (5) The Son and the Father; (6) The Son and the Children; (7) Trinitarian Agency; (8) Conclusion.
Brian K. Kay, Trinitarian Spirituality: John Owen and the Doctrine of God in Western Devotion (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2007). [Doesn't seem to be available yet through Amazon.]Also, Kelly Kapic and I have recently submitted our manuscript to Crossway for a new, updated, unabridged edition of Owen's classic, Communion with God, containing an extensive introduction and outline, translated footnotes, glossary, etc. It will be entitled Communion with the Triune God, and will be published (D.V.) in October 2007.
Carl R. Trueman, John Owen, Great Theologians Series (Ashgate, 2007). The publisher information is as follows:Carl Trueman presents a major study of the key elements of John Owen's writings and his theology. Presenting his theology in its historical context, Trueman explores the significance of Owen's work in ongoing debates on seventeenth century theology, and examines the contexts within which Owen's theology was formulated and the shape of his mind in relation to the intellectual culture of his day - particularly in contemporary philosophy, literature and theology. Examining Owen's theology from pneumatological, political and eschatological perspectives, Trueman highlights the trinitarian structure of his theology and how his theological work informed his understanding of practical Christianity.
With the current resurgence of interest in seventeenth century Reformed theology amongst intellectual historians, and the burgeoning research in systematic theology, this book presents an invaluable study of a leading mind in the Reformation and the historical underpinnings for new systematic theology.
Contents: Preface; (1) John Owen: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man; (2) The Knowledge of the Trinitarian God; (3) Divine Covenants and Catholic Christology; (4) The article by Which the Church Stands or Falls; (5) Conclusion.
Then when I arrived at work I read this blog post from Paul Tripp: Mercy Me: Psalm 51 and Everyday Life. A great example of the need to look to divine mercy, not as a get-out-of-jail-free pass, but as a liberating and transforming reality in our lives.
Tripp has been blogging quite a bit on Psalm 51. Check out his blog for more posts related to it.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers. If ever such defences were seasonable and expedient, they appear to be so in our day, when errors abound on all sides, and every truth of the Gospel is either directly denied, or grossly misrepresented.
And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it. Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which at most are but of a secondary value.
This shews, that, if the service is honourable, it is dangerous. What will it profit a man if he gains his cause and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made! Your aim, I doubt not, is good; but you have need to watch and pray, for you will find Satan at your right hand to resist you: he will try to debase your views; and though you set out in defence of the cause of God, if you are not continually looking to the Lord to keep you, it may become your own cause, and awaken in you those tempers which are inconsistent with true peace of mind, and will surely obstruct communion with God.
Be on your guard against admitting any thing personal into the debate. If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of shewing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who, "when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not." This is our pattern, thus we are to speak and write for God, "not rendering railing for railing, but, contrariwise, blessing; knowing that hereunto we are called."
The wisdom that is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the want [i.e., lack] of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the post of ointment, will spoil the savour and efficacy of our labours. If we act in a wrong spirit, we should bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow-creatures, and procure neither honour nor comfort to ourselves.
If you can be content with shewing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of Gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a mean of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands. Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of Hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts, that you are taught of God, and favoured with the unction of his Holy Spirit.
As to your opponent, I wish, that, before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord's teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.
If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab, concerning Absalom, are very applicable: "Deal gently with him for my sake." The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should shew tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself.
In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ for ever.
But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace, (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit,)
he is a more proper object of your compassion than your anger. Alas! "he knows not what he does." But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign good pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defence of the Gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his.
Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation. . . .
The Scriptural maximum, that "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God," is verified by daily observation. If our zeal is embittered by expressions of anger, invective, or scorn, we may think we are doing service to the cause of truth, when in reality we shall only bring it into discredit. . . .
Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit. Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Update: Those in the Midwest should considering attending this free conference at Northbrook Baptist Church, April 27-30, 2007, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Randy Stinson will lead six sessions on the God-designed differences between men and women. Check out the recommendations for it!
Update: For those who are interested, here's the video of Curtis's time at Bethlehem:
And here's a write-up about the controversy in World Magazine. (BTW, the picture in that article is not from that evening!)
He also announces a forthcoming 9Marks group blog:
There I and some others will be taking on issues a bit more narrowly that have to do with components of a healthy church. Remember the CT cover story last year on young, restless and reformed? To get us kicked off over at the 9marks blog, I'm going to begin with a 10-part series on where I think all these folks came from! So it should be a fun discussion.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Here's the closing:
To be sure, Francis Schaeffer's influence has declined in recent years, as postmodernism has supplanted the modernity he dissected for so long. Schaeffer is not without his critics, even among Christians. But perhaps, in the end, his greatest influence on the church will not be his words as much as his tears. The same things that made Francis Schaeffer cry in his day should make us cry in ours.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
- What Scriptures have informed your understanding of media (movies, music, books, magazines, web content) that you pursue?
- How do you try to apply those to your own life when you're making decisions about media?
- What about music specifically…
- Is music inherently good or bad? How does God's word see music?
- How do you pursue creativity and innovation with music while avoiding sin?
- Are the terms secular/Christian helpful when thinking of music? How do you apply a love for holiness when choosing music?
My good ministering brother, have you got an empty church? Do you want to fill it? I will give you a good recipe, and if you will follow it, you will, in all probability, have your chapel full to the doors.
Burn all your manuscripts, that is No. 1. Give up your notes, that is No. 2. Read your Bible and preach it as you find it in the simplicity of its language. And give up all your Latinized English. Begin to tell the people what you have felt in your own heart, and beseech the Holy Spirit to make your heart as hot as a furnace for zeal. Then go out and talk to the people. Speak to them like their brother. Be a man amongst men. Tell them what you have felt and what you know, and tell it heartily with a good, bold face; and, my dear friend, I do not care who you are, you will get a congregation.
But if you say, "Now, to get a congregation, I must buy an organ."
That will not serve you a bit.
"But we must have a good choir."
I would not care to have a congregation that comes through a good choir.
"No," says another, "but really I must a little alter my style of preaching."
My dear friend, it is not the style of preaching, it is the style of feeling. People sometimes begin to mimic other preachers, because they are successful. Why, the worst preachers are those who mimic others, whom they look upon as standards preach naturally. Preach out of your hearts just what you feel to be true, and the old soul-stirring words of the gospel will soon draw a congregation. "Where the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."
But if it ended there, what would be the good of it? If the congregation came and listened to the sound, and then went away unsaved, of what use would it be? But in the next place, Christ acts as a net to draw men unto him. The gospel ministry is, in God’s Word, compared to a fishery; God’s ministers are the fishermen, they go to catch souls, as fishermen go to catch fish.
How shall souls be caught? They shall be caught by preaching Christ. Just preach a sermon that is full of Christ, and throw it unto your congregation, as you throw a net into the sea; you need not look where they are, nor try to fit your sermon to different cases; but, throw it in, and as sure as God’s Word is what it is, it shall not return to him void; it shall accomplish that which he pleases, and prosper in the thing whereto he hath sent it.
The gospel never was unsuccessful yet, when it was preached with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It is not fine orations upon the death of princes, or the movements of politics which will save souls. If we wish to have sinners saved and to have our churches increased; if we desire the spread of God’s kingdom, the only thing whereby we can hope to accomplish the end, is the lifting up of Christ; for, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me."
Read the whole sermon, Christ Lifted Up (preached July 5, 1857).
Saturday, March 17, 2007
For those who think Mohler was unclear regarding his stance on gene therapy, the article contains some clarification:
Mohler responded that he opposes genetic manipulation of all kinds. His point, he said, was that if a hormone therapy were developed for fetuses that would help them be born straight rather than gay, he would support its use, just as he would support medical treatment to give sight to the blind fetus.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Well, never doubt the power of the media. My recent article on homosexuality ignited a firestorm in the public square. Why? We may never know -- but the controversy represents both a challenge and an opportunity.
I must admit much frustration about the way many in the media have handled the issue. Headlines proclaimed "Seminary President Says Babies Born Gay" -- something I neither believe nor said. Other articles and reports claimed that I suggested that homosexuality may be genetic in origin and that genetic therapies should be used to create customized and corrected babies. I never even mentioned genetic therapies or germ-line experiments, and I am adamantly opposed to genetic therapies of such a sort -- real or hypothetical. Reading these reports and headlines was a painful and exasperating experience. If I believed those things attributed to me, I would not agree with myself and would condemn myself.
I am even more frustrated with many conservative Christians who read the secular headlines without even bothering to read my article. They jumped to conclusions that I do not hold and castigated me for advocating things I have opposed all my life. I have received a great deal of hate mail from those identifying themselves as homosexuals outraged that I believe homosexual acts to be unconditionally sinful. But I also received mail that can only be described as hateful from those who identified themselves as Christians -- people who clearly had never read my article and simply jumped to conclusions or accepted misrepresentations. Furthermore, some who identified themselves as Christians spoke of homosexuality and homosexuals with hate-filled language that literally made me shudder. Do we really love sinners? Do we not understand ourselves to be sinners saved by grace?
I have been gratified by those who have articulated serious concerns, but who later, after reading my actual article, expressed gratitude for a serious attempt to think through these urgent issues from a biblical perspective.
There is no way that I can answer the avalanche of questions and issues individually, but here are a few thoughts that might help us think together.
Read the whole thing for the rest of his thoughts, in what is a very helpful article.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
A Christian knows that communion with God in prayer, faith, and the Word should be our sweetest delight, our exceeding desire. But in reality, these are often difficult for us. Newton writes:
Though he knows that communion with God is his highest privilege, he too seldom finds it so; on the contrary, if duty, conscience, and necessity did not compel, he would leave the throne of grace unvisited from day to day. He takes up the Bible, conscious that it is the fountain of life and true comfort; yet perhaps, while he is making the reflection, he feels a secret distaste, which prompts him to lay it down, and give him preference to a newspaper." [You could substitute the word "website"!]But then Newton turns to a perplexing question indeed:
How can these things be, or why are they permitted? Since the Lord hates sin, teaches his people to hate it and cry against it, and has promised to hear their prayers, how is it that they go thus burdened? Surely, if he could not, or would not, over-rule evil for good, he would permit it to continue.Here is how he answers:
By these exercises he teaches us more truly to know and feel the utter depravity and corruption of our whole nature, that we are indeed defiled in every part.Newton goes on to answer the question of how such sin can be mitigated or overcome. I won't quote the rest of the letter, but simply this line which sums up his positive counsel: "Faithfulness to light received, and a sincere endeavor to conform to the means prescribed in the word of God, with an humble application to the Blood of sprinkling and the promised Spirit, will undoubtedly be answered by increasing measures of light, faith, strength, and comfort; and we shall know, if we follow on to know the Lord."
His method of salvation is likewise hereby exceedingly endeared to us: we see that it is and must be of grace, wholly of grace; and that the Lord Jesus Christ, and his perfect righteousness, is and must be our all in all.
His power likewise, in maintaining his own work notwithstanding our infirmities, temptations, and enemies, is hereby displayed in the clearest light; his strength is manifested in our weakness.
Satan likewise is more remarkably disappointed and put to shame, when he finds bounds set to his rage and policy, beyond which he cannot pass; and that those in whom he finds so much to work upon, and over whom he so often prevails for a season, escape at last out of his hands. He casts them down, but they are raised again; he wounds them, but they are healed; he obtains his desire to sift them as wheat, but the prayer of their great Advocate prevails for the maintenance of their faith.
Farther, by what believers feel in themselves they learn by degrees how to warn, pity, and bear with others. A soft, patient, and compassionate spirit, and a readiness and skill in comforting those who are cast down, is not perhaps attainable in any other way.
And, lastly, I believe nothing more habitually reconciles a child of God to the thought of death, than the wearisomeness of this warfare. Death is unwelcome to nature;--but then, and not till then, the conflict will cease. Then we shall sin no more. The flesh, with all its attendant evils, will be laid in the grave. Then the soul, which has been partaker of a new and heavenly birth, shall be freed from every incumbrance, and stand perfect perfect in the Redeemer's righteousness before God in glory.
Okay, back to Newton. The other night I pulled down volume 1 and began reading the book Cardiphonia: or, The Utterances of the Heart, in the Course of a Real Correspondence. It was published in 1780. (Newton's years were N1725-1807.) It contains a series of letters that Newton wrote, offering practical, pastoral, godly gospel counsel.
Here's a quote from one of the letters that was encouraging to my soul:
Since the radical powers of the soul are thus enfeebled and disordered, it is not to be wondered at that the best of men, and under their highest attainments, have found cause to make the acknowledgment of the Apostle, "When I should do good, evil is present with me."
But, blessed be God, though we must feel hourly cause for shame and humiliation for what we are in ourselves, we have cause to rejoice continually in Christ Jesus, who, as he is revealed unto us under the various names, characters, relations, and offices, which he bears in the Scripture, holds out to our faith a balm for every wound, a cordial for every discouragement, and a sufficient answer to every objection which sin or Satan can suggest against our peace.
He knows our frame, he remembers that we are but dust, and has engaged to guide us by his counsel, support us by his power, and at length to receive us to his glory, that we may be with him for ever.
- If we are guilty, he is our Righteousness;
- if we are sick; he is our infallible Physician;
- if we are weak, helpless, and defenceless, he is the compassionate and faithful Shepherd who has taken charge of us, and will not suffer any thing to disappoint our hopes, or to separate us from his love.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
July 10, 2009, will be John Calvin's 500th birthday. (As it so happens, on that same day I'll turn 31.) Conferences are being planned in honor of the former--though none so far in honor of the latter.
Check out the Calvin500.org webpage. Here's the summary:
The Calvin Quincentenary is an international, interdenominational, and interdisciplinary commemoration of the life and work of John Calvin (b. 1509), which left such an indelible impression on the modern world. Climaxing with conferences in multiple locations in 2009, this celebration combines history, spirituality, and culture to recall appropriately the life and work of the Genevan Reformer.
Esteemed leaders, scholars, and ministers will serve as your guides to learning about this influential man, his vibrant city, and the cultural, religious, political, and economic impact flowing from a movement. This multi-faceted approach seeks to introduce many people to one of the most important thinkers in history.
If you have been looking for a great opportunity to tour Reformation highlights while also learning from some masters, this is the best shot for hundreds of years for hundreds of people to come together. However, this is more than a first-class tour!
Conferences, books, tours, etc. are all being planned. Check out the Calvin500.org page for details as they emerge.
Rev. Dr. Herman Ridderbos, one of the foremost developers of the redemptive-historical approach to Biblical theology, a hallmark of Westminster Theological Seminary, died 8 March, having celebrated his 98th birthday on 13 March. Among his more widely distributed writings were “Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures,” “Paul and Jesus,” and “Paul: An Outline of His Theology.” Reportedly Ned Stonehouse once said this of Ridderbos: “Wherever the Dutch language is read Professor Herman Ridderbos is recognized as an outstanding New Testament scholar and theologian . . .”
HT: Jack Collins
An interesting thing about Ridderbos: despite being one of the most influential NT scholars of the 20th century, there seems to be almost no personal information about him publicly available. If I'm wrong on that, let me know. Here's the basic information:
Herman Nicolaas Ridderbos was born in 1900 [sic?]. His father, Jan Ridderbos, was an ordained minister in the Reformed Church of the Netherlands, a biblical commentator, and professor of Old Testament at the Theological School of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands in Kampen. Herman Ridderbos completed his undergraduate studies there, and did his post-graduate work at the Free University of Amsterdam under F. W. Grosheide, qualifying for his doctorate in 1936. In 1943, after serving as a pastor for eight years, Ridderbos was appointed to the post of Professor of New Testament Studies at that same school, succeeding Dr. Sidney Greidanus who had been one of his professors. He served there for over forty years.
H. N. Ridderbos's brother N. H. Ridderbos became Professor of Old Testament at the Free University of Amsterdam in the early fifties. The Ridderbos family name, needless to say, has become virtually synonymous with eminent Biblical scholarship. Ridderbos was raised in the church. From his father, a staunch churchman and prominent spokesman in the Dutch controversy of the 30s and 40s, Ridderbos learned first hand both the dangers which a psychologizing homiletic posed to the church of God and the imperative to ground all things in the objective realities revealed in Scripture. Ridderbos became a vocal churchman in his own right, arguing effectively in sermons, lectures, treatises, and the ecclesiastical courts, for a redemptive historical approach and understanding of Scripture. Ridderbos's antagonism against dilusive subjectivism is evident in all of his works. A prolific New Testament commentator and redemptive historical theologian par excellence, Ridderbos has produced some of the most helpful insights on redemptive history, corporate personality, the Kingdom of God and eschatology. His seminal work on the theology of Paul is widely and highly acclaimed, and is considered a definitive exposition of by many, both in the Reformed church and by the scholarly community at large.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I don't intend to make eschatology a major focus of this blog. However, because so few have been able to access Sam Storms's article successfully, I thought it'd be worth making available in a different way. As it turns out, Storms has expanded the article into a chapter for a forthcoming book on eschatology. His website (samstorms.com) is due for an overhaul soon. In the meantime, he granted permission for me to post it on a temporary blog.
So here it is: Sam Storms on Problems with Premillennialism.
As a preview, Storms points out that if you are a Premillennialist (whether Dispensationalist or not), there are several things you must necessarily believe:
You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ’s second coming.
You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ’s second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the fall of man.
You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.
You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.
You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.
You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.Amillennialists--rightly, it seems to me--don't see these beliefs being taught in Scripture. If you're interested in the exegetical details, head over to Storms's article.
One of the most encouraging things about this whole Jesus-tomb business is the way in which the evangelical community has responded. Refutations have been respectful, well-informed, fast, and devastating. It seems to me that this is an excellent example of scholarship serving the church on behalf of Truth.
He himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!
(ANF1, Epistle to Diognetus, chapt. 9, p. 28)
Monday, March 12, 2007
I recently read Storms's overview on Problems with Premillennialism, which shows why premillennialism can't be squared with passages like 1 Cor. 15:22-28; 1 Cor. 15:50-57; Rom. 8:18-23; 2 Pet. 3:8-13; Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; and John 5:28-29.
In my (hopefully humble) opinion, these passages are clear that when Christ comes, it's "curtains" on sin and death. There will be a final judgment and a final resurrection, with a new heavens and a new earth.
Nowhere do I see Scripture teaching things like there being both glorified bodies and unglorified bodies on earth at the same time--and I have to confess that the idea of such seems quite unsettling and depressing to me.
I'm open to being persuaded that I'm wrong. Most of my exegetical heroes are pre-mill, post-trib. But books like Hans LaRondelle's The Israel of God in Prophecy and especially Anthony Hoekema's The Bible and the Future put me over the edge exegetically.
I know that this issue is a hot potato, a can of worms, or (insert your own cliche here ______). I recognize that people have strong feelings about this. So I ask that any interaction in the comments be measured and respectful. You can go after ideas, but not persons. And please use arguments instead of just stating opinions.
We give thanks to the Lord that the 2007 National Conference has received such a favorable response. As never before in our generation, contending for the truth requires that we are able to give solid reasons for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15).
John MacArthur, Al Mohler, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, and Ravi Zacharias aim to equip as many people as possible to defend their faith. To this end, we are offering a free live webcast of this conference.
Ligonier has just opened up registration for a free live stream of the conference. Go here, or here.