Archive for November, 2008

If ever it should come to pass,

That Sheep of Christ may fall away,

My fickle, feeble soul, alas!

Would fall a thousand times a day.

I realized after I put this post up that the title could be somewhat misleading.  I cherish Christ, because he is the good shepherd, he will not break his covenant with me, for it is everlasting.  God has purposed to save me, and he has said that his purposes will not be thwarted.  He has given me his Spirit to convict me of sin and draw me to the fountain of God’s love.  I do not cherish intellectual assent to a proposition.  When I say I “cherish such and such a doctrine,” I mean it the same way I would say I “cherish such and such a characteristic of my wife.”  I cherish her, and I cherish what she does and how she does it, they are inextricably linked.


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Note: I am aware that the word religion has passed out of any and all positive uses these days, and so please bear with Calvin’s outdated use of the word:

Although our mind cannot [truly] apprehend God without rendering some honor to him, it will not suffice simply to hold that there is One to whom although to honor and adore, unless we are also persuaded that he is the fountain of every good, and that we must seek nothing elsewhere than in him.

This I take to mean that not only does he sustain this universe (as he [also created] it) by his boundless might, regulate it by his wisdom, preserve it by his goodness, and especially rule mankind by his righteousness and judgement, bear with it in his mercy, watch over it by his protection; but also that no drop will be found either of wisdom or light, or of righteousness or power or rectitude, or of genuine truth, which does not flow from him and of which he is not the cause.

Thus we may learn to await  and seek all these things from him, and thankfully…ascribe them, once received, to him…This sense of the powers of God is for us a fit teacher of piety, from which religion is born.  I call “piety” that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces.

For until men recognize that we they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him – they will never yield him willing service.  Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.2.1.  Emphasis mine.

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In brief, being open-minded does not remove the possibility of being assertive, IF it is an open-mindedness to the Scriptures, and to the possibility that we may have misunderstood something that the Scripture teaches.

That’s in in brief. In not brief,

-first off, I think that its important to recall what the Bible is: a book, words put in a certain way, in certain patterns, with certain innuendos with the intended purpose of COMMUNICATING with humanity. Being assertive about the Truth is a matter of asserting God’s communication with the world, His SPEECH, His WORD; in short, it is about establishing COMMUNION between us, others and God. (more…)

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Ok, so the Emerging Church wasn’t around when Chesterton was, neither was Rob Bell, who embodies this “new humility.”  And maybe this isn’t just limited to the Emerging Church per se.  In my time in undergrad, at a christian liberal arts university, and at a bible college, I saw this everywhere.  Assertiveness is arrogant.  “Open Mindedness” is humble.  Thanks to Josh Harris for bringing putting this great quote up.

What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert–himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt – the Divine Reason. . . . The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it’s practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . . The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.

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I am a part of another ministry called “The Paul and Timothy Project.” Today we announced a revised mission statement and posted on our website. Our new mission statement reads,

The Paul and Timothy Project exists to bring biblical reform to the way pastors/elders are trained in the local church.

Check it out to read more about what we are doing.

Also, on the blog today, we asked for all Timothy’s to unite. If you blog, and you are a ”Timothy” who is engaging in mentorship, theological education, pre-eldership ministry and the development of character as preparation for leadership in tomorrow’s Church, we want to promote your blog. Leave a comment on the Paul and Timothy blog and we will add you to our blog roll.

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I am going to do a short series of posts on the ECM (Emergent Church Movement). I have been reading some books, along with Bryce, and I am hoping to share some helpful insights.

Sadly, the ECM is experiencing a time in which they are throwing the baby out with that bathwater. As we are faced with the challenges of a new prevailing epistemology and cultural thought, namely post-modernism, the ECM is abandoning ship on everything. Just by reading the title of some of the books written by those who write for the ECM, their motives are clear, “Everything Must Change,” “Church on the Other side,” and “Generous Orthodoxy.” All these books are viewing the church in light of its current problems and in light of post-modern thought.

The emphasis of the ECM isn’t orthodox doctrine and theology. Doctrine and theology are being dispensed with in an effort to gain a higher good, namely a more holistic spiritual life. But the ECM will not survive as an evangelical movement if they continue down the path they are on. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel we just need to be continuing the tradition of reforming.

For this first post, I want to contend with the rejection of intellectual modernism. To protest against modernism, as a problem in of itself, is problematic. The collapse of social or cultural modernism doesn’t necessarily flow to the collapse of intellectual modernism. It is the culture, far more commonly, which gives the ideas their plausibility and which makes them seem inevitable. It is from the culture that ideas gain their traction and it is often because of the culture, when it changes, that they lose their traction. The modernization of society allowed for the continuation of intellectual modernism and as the decline of cultural modernization we see the decline of intellectual modernism.

The ECM seems to just be falling in line with the post-modern craze. However, aspects of the faith must be understood from a realistic, modernistic, epistemology. J. P. Moreland, in a plenary address to the 2004 meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, said, “I am convinced that postmodernism is an irresponsible, cowardly abrogation of the duties that constitute a disciple’s calling to be a Christian intellectual and teacher.” He sees postmodernism as “a form of intellectual pacifism,” and describes it as “the cure that kills the patient, the military strategy that concedes defeat before the first shot is fired, the ideology that undermines its own claims to allegiance.” It is “an immoral coward’s way out.” He thinks postmodern culture should be confronted, shown its errors, and opposed.

The ECM fails to demonstrate a reasonable or academic reason to adopt post-modernism. Conceding to post-modernism for the sake of conceding is a dangerous move. In order to engage culture we don’t need to become post-moderns by default.

We need to penetrate other people’s worlds, their thinking, their affections, and their struggles. We need to go their cities and live in them. We need to love them as our neighbors. We need to live in a culture living out the values of a dramatically different culture. We cannot let go of the Bible and the doctrines set forth therein. That’s the way we engage post-moderns.

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These two clauses, If thou knewest the gift of God, and, who it is that talketh with thee, I read separately, viewing the latter as an interpretation of the former. For it was a wonderful kindness of God to have Christ present, who brought with him eternal life

The meaning will be more plain if, instead of and, we put namely, or some other word of that kind, thus: If thou knewest the gift of God, namely, who it is that talketh with thee. By these words we are taught that then only do we know what Christ is, when we understand what the Father hath given to us in him, and what benefits he brings to us.

Now that knowledge begins with a conviction of our poverty; for, before any one desires a remedy, he must be previously affected with the view of his distresses. Thus the Lord invites not those who have drunk enough, but the thirsty, not those who are satiated, but the hungry, to eat and drink. And why would Christ be sent with the fullness of the Spirit, if we were not empty?…

…[a man] has made great progress, who, feeling his deficiency, already acknowledges how much he needs the aid of another; so it would not be enough for him to groan under his distresses, if he had not also hope of aid ready and prepared. In this way we might do no more than waste ourselves with grief, or at least we might…run about in every direction, and oppress ourselves with useless and unprofitable weariness.

But when Christ appears, we no longer wander in vain, seeking a remedy where none can be obtained, but we go straight to him. The only true and profitable knowledge of the grace of God is, when we know that it is exhibited to us in Christ, and that it is held out to us by his hand. In like manner does Christ remind us how efficacious is a knowledge of his blessings, since it excites us to seek them and kindles our hearts.

John Calvin, Commentary on John 4:10.

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