NCT: Christ Over All Things

A must read:  Chad Bresson: What is New Covenant Theology

Excellent; excellent!

I trust this will prove to be something of a catalyst in aiding people to think seriously about the NEWNESS of the NC in Christ.

Appreciate the labor! May the Lord continue to bless, providing us a clearer vision of God’s face in Christ Jesus. He continues to rend the veil that we might behold, believe and be-formed.

CIVIL: USA as Political Messiah

Richard Gamble on Civil Religion:

“America’s anointment as the world’s political messiah did not end when demobilized troops returned from Europe in 1919. It did not end with America’s opposition to the Treaty of Versailles, nor with America’s refusal to join the League of Nations. The cumulative product of generations of reflection, experience, and anticipation, the American identity reached too deep and far to have been uprooted in a moment of supposed renunciation. Transcending party politics and most ideological boundaries, nearly all of the language of universality and emancipation, of the “city on a hill” and the world’s rebirth, of light and dark, Messiah and Armageddon, reverberates down to the present moment. Like Woodrow Wilson before them, few modern presidents have been able to resist the allure of America’s global redemptive consciousness. In the 1940s, Franklin Roosevelt planned for a future refounded on four freedoms, freedoms that would prevail “everywhere in the world.” In the fourth of these universal freedoms, freedom from fear, he anticipated a day when “no nation will be in a position to commit and act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.”

“In countless speeches from the 1960s through the 1980s, moreover, Ronald Reagan reached back to the earliest metaphors of America’s divine destiny” to reaffirm the nation’s special calling as a “city on a hill.” Combining the Puritan errand with the Enlightenment dream of earthly regeneration, he also embraced Tom Pain’s longing to “begin the world over again.” And on September 11, 2002, George W. Bush, speaking with the colossus of the Statue of Liberty behind him, called America the “hope of all mankind” and appropriated the world of John 1:5 as if they described not just the Incarnation of Christ but the mission of the United States: “And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness will not overcome it.” To one degree or another and with varying motives and consequences, each of these men continued to speak of the United States as if it were the Salvator Mundi, following a pattern of thought that has endured for more than four centuries.”

[HT: DG Hart]

EvanGALATIANism: Not getting and keeping the Gospel right!

OK folks…you heard it here first:  EvanGALATIANism!

That’s right, I just coined a term that will radically transform both the Church and the World (one day).  Yeah right!

Anyway.  As the title of this post states, EvanGALATIANism has to do with our not getting and/or keeping the Gospel right, front and center; our not above all else, reading, teaching, and living/believing in accord with the Gospel (Christ himself).  And, EvanGALATIANism fails to ever genuinely understand the brokenness both apart from Christ and in Christ (identifying with the Cross; dying daily). BTW, FundaSARDISism (Rev.3.1), the elder brother to EvanGALATIANism, has long warmed-over having found itself buried alongside LiberaODICEANism (Rev.3.14).

The way (theology) of the Cross is not something we understand or live apart from the Spirit of Christ making the Word of Christ to richly dwell in us.  Hence, as we began, so even now, our entire hope is in the mercy of God to make this ONE Gospel about Jesus Christ to be the Bedrock of all faith and life.

This doesn’t mean that we at some point arrive at a higher level of Christian existence, but that we (by the Gospel) are brought to live as dead men toward the World and vacuous Religion, yet alive toward God in and through Christ Jesus, to the glory of God and good of our neighbor.

So then…beware of the leaven of EvanGALATIANism…all Gospel-less doctrine and the associated lifestyle that it promises and nurtures…that is, anything that doesn’t find its hope solely and squarely upon the Gospel.  EvanGALATIANism, perhaps having begun in the Spirit, is that religion (like all false religion) which seeks to complete the race that is before us in the power of the Self!

Kingdom: Left, Right, or Neither?

Lee Irons has commented on a work by Seyoon Kim, Christ and Caesar

 

1)   It is not the timing of the eschaton but the nature of the eschaton that conditions their [Paul and Luke’s] stance toward political issues. If the eschaton is going to bring about a radical change in the conditions of life such that the glory of the age to come totally transcends our present existence, then it matters little whether they viewed the eschaton as imminent (within their lifetime) or as far off in the future.

 

a.    The eschatological state, for the New Testament writers, is not continuous with the present state. Paul says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50).

b.    The eschatological state will be characterized by a glorified creation and glorified bodies to inhabit that glorified creation. The glorified state is one of incorruption and immortality. It is not merely the eternal continuation of our present fleshly state.

c.    Thus, for the New Testament writers, political questions, tied as they are to the fleshly state of this passing age, are necessarily secondary in importance.

d.    Furthermore, as a part of the fleshly state, political arrangements are not capable of being transformed or taken up into the state of glory, whether in its “already” state (experienced proleptically by the indwelling of the living Christ through his Spirit) or its “not yet” form (the glorified creation/body).

 

2)   Second, I do not understand what Kim means by “the materialization of Christ’s Lordship” or “materializing the redemption of the Kingdom of God politically.” These sound like nice words, but what do they mean in practical terms?

 

a.    For those on the left it means increasing government funding for social welfare for the poor. Others on the left would say it means ending war in some sort of commitment to pacifism. Those on the right would say it means banning abortion, or having the constitution amended to exclude same-sex marriage, or reducing the size of government and government controls on the free market.

b.    A related problem is that, even if we were to agree on a specific agenda, how do these things relate to Christ’s Lordship or the redemption of the Kingdom of God? In other words, why should any of the above items, left or right, be viewed in such exalted spiritual terms, as the materialization of the reign of Christ?

c.    In my view, the above policies can be debated pro and con, and perhaps some are pragmatically better for society than others, but none are distinctively Christian, and certainly they should not be characterized as the political materialization of the kingdom of God.

Survey: “Bad?” Maybe not!

Here is an interesting article about the so-called spiritual decline in the USA.  Interesting how some folks think themselves less “spiritual” if they entirely abandon any and all so-called formal religion; while others are in hot pursuit of answers wherever they can find them, so long as their felt-needs are met.  And so the pendulum swings….

The findings in this article are not all that stunning actually, but appear to be further confirmation that, what once claimed to be at the religious helm in the USA was nothing more than an empty shell.  Folks are finally beginning to realize this sad truth; the mask is being pulled away from religion(s) that has long been just skin deep. 

Though there is reason to lament here (being that what was claiming Christ’s name, lacked Christ’s grace and truth), there is reason to rejoice.  The house is being cleansed.

Superficial religiosity, no matter how well meaning or busy, will always be found out.  Preaching everything but Christ crucified will wear out with using, no matter how “helpful and good” it initially appears.  In the end…it’s never worth its salt.

Find the article here:

USA TODAY: Most religious groups in USA have lost ground, survey finds

 

Christendom: Applauding The Fall Thereof

Excellent program by the folks at The White Horse Inn:  Losing Our Religion

The boys explain how it is that the notion of “Christendom” gave birth to Atheism/Modernism/Romanticism/Etc.  How, as Christians, we can be thankful that the unbelievers (i.e., Jefferson, etc) who helped founded this country saw fit to separate the two spheres, ecclesiastical and civil, which had the effect of preserving both alongside one another.

Glory: Fading, World

Seeyon Kim has written:

“When Paul is expecting such individual and cosmic salvation from God, and very shortly at that, how interested would he be in changing the present “scheme of the world” that “is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31), in order to make life in it a little fuller during the short interim period (v. 29) before such total salvation?

Continuity: of Fulfillment (from Law to Gospel)

Just pondering this evening…

 

1) The matter of getting the Law right: grasping Paul’s covenantal understanding of both the Law and Gospel – Rom.2&7; Gal.4; and 2Cor.3.

 

2) Unfortunately, we can get the Gospel right only to again find our mingling it with the Law, due to our missing the *continuity of fulfillment* between the two covenants in Christ.

 

3) Denying this continuity: we are left seeing Christ’s person and work in obscurity (i.e., the typical tertius usus legis, etc.).

Aeons: Christ/Adam

Mike Horton once said:

“It becomes clear that this two-age model is concerned not with two worlds or realms, but with two ages, one inferior to the other not for any necessary or ontological reasons but for situational and ethical ones…. To be ‘in the Spirit’ is not to be ontologically spiritual as opposed to physical, but to be ‘in Christ’ rather than ‘in Adam,’ to belong ‘to the age to come’ rather than to ‘this present evil age,’ to be ‘children of the resurrection’ of whom Jesus Christ is the ‘firstfruits.’ The age of the Spirit is not contrasted with that of the flesh, says Ridderbos, ‘first and foremost as an individual experience… but as the new way of existence which became present time with the coming of Christ…. This being in the Spirit is not a mystical, but an eschatological, redemptive-historical, category.'”

Aeons: Flesh/Spirit

Gordon Fee once wrote:

“The flesh-Spirit contrast in Paul never appears in a context in which the issue has to do with ‘how to live the Christian life’; rather, it appears in this case in an argument with those who have entered into the new eschatological life of the Spirit, but who are being seduced to return to the old aeon, to live on the basis of Torah observance, which for Paul is finally but another form of life ‘according to the flesh’ (cf. Gal. 3:3; 5:17-18; Phil. 3:3-6).”

Horton on Challenges and Opportunities for Ministry Today

Chris Anderson over at My Two Cents had the following to say regarding Mike Horton comments about Challenges and Opportunities for Ministry Today:

Chris said, “Commenting on the tendency for Christians to adjust our ministries so that they are more culture-friendly, Horton asks, “when will we learn what so many of our forebears knew from experience: that the success of the Christian gospel lies precisely in its offense.”

1. Our dissection of culture isn’t working.

“A host of recent studies confirms that the ecclesiastical ideology of ‘mission to postmodern culture’ works least among the people who are supposed to be the most impressed: the so-called Gen-Xers and younger. Even aside from the all-important challenge of biblical fidelity, not even the demographics support the hype that almost tyrannically controls contemporary approaches to mission and worship.”

2. Our dissection of culture isn’t biblical. We’ve made things far too complicated.

“What if, instead of adopting the division of history into modern and postmodern, we followed the New Testament distinction between ‘this present evil age’ and ‘the age to come,’ the reality of life ‘in the flesh’ versus ‘life in the Spirit’?…In this typology, ‘That is postmodern’ no longer becomes a get-out-of-jail-free card, a justification for all sorts of deviance from historic Christian norms in the name of evangelism, mission, and outreach to the postmodern culture.”

3. People haven’t changed–not in their basic nature and need. Listen to Horton:

“So which is it? Is postmodernism the big new thing or the same old thing? For mission, at least, it just does not matter.”

Voting and Politics by Piper

Despite Piper’s take on Palin’s involvement, etc (up to 2:40), I can appreciate much of what he has to say.  The shorter of the two videos says enough.  Oh, how easy it is to get caught up in temporal matters.  We do this each and every day.  No surprise then that this election distracts many of us…we tend to live that way!

Voting and Politics by Piper

A Focal Shift

Lee Irons has explained that:

 

…evangelicals should be concerned about this movement [Paul and Empire] because it has the effect of shifting the focus of Paul’s gospel away from the existential issues of personal sin and guilt before a holy God, to structural issues in society as a whole. Sin is not that I have transgressed God’s will but that American foreign policy or global capitalism are oppressive forces causing suffering and pain. Instead of personal guilt, the focus is on systemic structural evil. Thus, Paul’s gospel is not (on this view) fundamentally a message about how Christ delivers us from the wrath to come through his atoning death and resurrection, but a message that God is on the side of the politically oppressed and the environment.

 

And instead of calling fundamentally for a response of repentance toward God and faith/trust in Jesus Christ, this “gospel” (if one can call it that) calls for a new moralism with a political agenda. The “Paul and Empire” movement transforms Paul’s proclamation of Christ into a social gospel that in the final analysis could do without Christ. I do not think N. T. Wright is as guilty on this score as Horsley and others, but I fear that Wright is at least complicit in encouraging a social gospel interpretation of Paul’s gospel (witness his influence on Brian McLaren).

VOTING: In The City of Man

John Piper recently wrote:

“So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.”

 

READ IT ALL:

John Piper: Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting

 

AND ANOTHER WORTHWHILE READ:

Dr. Hamilton: On Politicians and Elected Officians

Dr. Hamilton: The Church Militant and Her Warfare: We Are Not Another Interest Group

 

 

 

 

Priorities of the Ministry of the Gospel

Don Carson has warned:

“Our passion must first be the gospel and not assume it to be understood.”

“We must be careful to keep the gospel central and not turn our responses to the gospel as the main target.”

Scott Thomas mentions that:

“…Carson exhorted…Christian leaders to spend our time on prayer and the ministry of the Word and allow our people to begin and maintain efforts in social concern. He said we must distinguish between what the church as church must do and what the community of believers in the church must do…”

Pro-Life, Rhetoric, and Obama

For those who might be interested, here are four resources that speak to a Two-Kingdom perspective on our current political climate:

 

Mike Horton: How Pro-Life Are You?

 

Don Eberly: The Common Good and Common Grace

 

Jason Stellman: Tender Conscience of King Obamalech

 

Lee Irons: A Plea To Tone Down The Rhetoric

Truth: Gospel, Not Cultural!

Ken Myers has written:

…the activity of Christians in the culture is not usually kingdom work in the sense it is assumed to be, nor is it redemptive in any useful sense of the word. But it is nonetheless imperative for us to be active in the culture, not because we are saved, but because we are created.”

“The great irony is that the message of the Kingdom of God has profound cultural and political consequences precisely because it is not a cultural or political message. It cannot be defeated by cultural power.”

 

 

 

The Other Gospel: Neo-Paganism

Here is one of over 30 lectures that are worth the time spent listening!

What these folks are discussing is already shaping the political, economic, social, academic,  geological and theological landscape of our time. 

Church beware!  We live in an age of growing unity of Rationalism and Romanticism under the umbrella of Monism.  The initial tremors of this quake are already being felt, even within the so-called ‘evangelical’ church.

Click here:  Peter Jones on Neo-Paganism: Stepchild of Secular Humanism