GRACE: Living with it!

Here’s another good program at the White Horse Inn.  Mike Horton interviews Elyse Fitzpatrick regarding her new book.  However, the conversation is not merely about the “new book” but more so about the nature of the Gospel as it bears upon our life…the whole of it, to include the struggle to trust in our approval in Christ alone (and not ourselves) and our failures in sin.

The program:  Give Them Grace

Kingdom: One or Two? (part 1)

Here is an interesting conversation over at Office Hours (WSC) on Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.  Though I am not a fan of some of the Reformed (covenantal) distinctives presented here (e.g. Sabbath-keeping; strict Regulative Principle of Worship; etc) this conversation does help to sort out some of the distinctives of what I would consider a sound understanding of a New Covenant perspective on the Two Kingdoms.

Back on March 14, 2010, The White Horse Inn also hosted VanDrunen to speak about what natural law is and how it relates to the Lord Jesus Christ.

VanDrunen seeks to answer questions like:

What is natural law?

Is it consistent with Reformed theology?

How about the Two Kingdoms approach to the relationship between Christianity and culture?

Here are some of my notes from the March 14th White Horse Inn program:

  • To start out, VanDrunen takes time to explain the difference between the two distinct notions of 1) TWO CITIES and 2) TWO KINGDOMS
    • TWO CITIES
      • Regarding the TWO CITIES, we are talking about the CITY OF GOD and the CITY OF MAN
        • An individual is either a citizen of one or the other (not both!).
        • There is NO OVERLAP of the two cities.
  • TWO KINGDOMS
    • Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Man
      • KINGDOM OF GOD
        • Heavenly
        • Eternal
        • Holy Spirit-ruled in the light of the Gospel
        • Christ, Cult-centered
        • Sacred
      • KINGDOM OF MAN
        • Earthly
        • Temporal
        • Natural Law-ruled in light of nature
        • Culture-centered
        • Secular
    • An individual CHRISTIAN has a dual-citizenship, being related to both Kingdoms
      • There is an OVERLAP of these two kingdoms, within the people who are members of both, Christians.
      • The ‘unbeliever’ is not a member of the Kingdom of God, and is therefore a member of only the temporal Kingdom of Man.
    • All ‘unbelievers’ ultimately have but a ONE KINGDOM perspective, and so too many who are believers who adhere to non-biblical notions that blur the line of distinction between two real, biblically understood kingdoms (i.e., Christ and Caesar).
      • FUNDAMENTALISM (of whatever strip) is always a predominantly single kingdom perspective
      • NEO-CALVINISM (Theonomy; Dutch Transformationalism; etc) is typically a single kingdom perspective
      • BROAD-EVANGELICALISM is typically a single kingdom perspective
      • HIGHER-LIFE thinking runs along a single kingdom perspective
      • CHARISMATIC thinking runs along a single kingdom perspective
      • PIETISM/MORALISM also find their bearing to be more of a single kingdom perspective, making everything to be either holy or wicked, missing the biblical distinction between common, holy, and wicked

Stay tuned.  More to come on Natural Law and Religious Liberty!

GNOSTICISM: A Perennial Philosophy

An excellent lecture by Peter Jones: A Gnostic Gospel

As usual, Peter provides us an informed look at Gnosticism and its revival in our time.

A few notes from this lecture:

1)      Gnosticism:

  1. Dualism on the back of Monism
  2. A perennial philosophy
    1. Assuming a spirit behind everything
  3. Is the bridge for Paganism to enter into culture
  4. A parasite on the Church
    1. In “word” it pretends to be Christian
    2. In “spirit” it practices Paganism
  5. A “spiritual” view of existence
    1. A planetary vision
    2. Geo-logians propagate it
      1. Utilizing notions of “Mother Nature”
      2. Re-inventing humanity
  6. A “progressive spirituality”
    1. A worldwide scope; a cosmic view
    2. Not like the “New Age” which was particularly “self-centered”
    3. Two Tiers of Consciousness
      1. Myth (i.e., Theism, etc)
      2. Reality (i.e., Monism)
    4. Also described as “integral-spirituality”
  7. Manifests itself on two fronts:
    1. Inter-faith Mysticism
      1. A shared spiritual experience
      2. Uniformity of belief is not necessary
      3. Progressive-Christianity flows within this stream
      4. Intellect is not the medium, but Imagination is the way to mystery
      5. Experience is a higher authority than doctrine (i.e., Scripture, etc)
    2. Social Justice
  8. Pagan at its core
    1. A non-dualistic existence
      1. No Creator/creature distinction
      2. A non-binary world
    2. Seeking synthesis of everything through One-ism
      1. Syncretism: not in doctrine but experience
  9. Liberalism is always something of a form of Gnosticism, which seeks to sell social justice under the cloak of cheapened Christian jargon.

REALITY: Grasping it with both Faith and Reason

The following are notes based upon a Ken Samples lecture, which can be listened to here:  Dangerous Ideas (part 4)

NOTES on Making Sense of Reality from a Christian Perspective – Compatibility of Faith and Reason

1)      Ultimate Metaphysical Question:

  1. Why is there “something” instead of nothing?
    1. Why does anything exist?

2)      The existence of God is the best explanation of reality.

  1. A cumulative argument is sufficient
    1. Being more plausible, credible, and reasonable
    2. Having ‘explanatory power’
    3. Not arguing for certainty, but plausibility
  2. We believe that to make sense of the world “faith” is essential
    1. Denial is a willful choice
      1. Fool: suppresses the truth
    2. Atheism requires a great faith
      1. They too have to bear the burden of proof, in explaining God’s alleged nonexistence in light of reality

3)      Reason does not cause faith, but reason supports faith

  1. Reason = general revelation
  2. Faith = special revelation
    1. The latter is in itself reasoning, but more particularly on the basis of special revelation and divine intervention
    2. The former reveals that it is epistemologically and morally inexcusable to reject a biblical faith; particularly that it would be irresponsible to do so without giving due consideration to the true nature of reality and how well a Christian faith coincides with it.

4)      C.L.E.A.R.

Cosmos: cosmological argument

Life: meaning realities

Ethics: objective, prescriptive realities

Abstractions: ultimate source of conceptions

Religion: sense of the divine

  1. COSMOS
    1. Cosmological Argument
      1. Singular beginning (origin)
      2. Order and elegance
      3. Fine tuning
    2. “Almost everyone believes there was a beginning of the Universe and Time.” Steven Hawking
      1. Matter, Energy, Space, and Time
        1. All have a mysterious origin
    3. Big Bang
      1. Bible: only holy book to address the particular dynamics of this
      2. Universe: 13 Billion years old
      3. Earth: 4 Billion years old
    4. A look into outer space displays an undeniable order
      1. The universe is just the right place for life
      2. Laws of physics do not demand a universe as such as we have.
        1. It doesn’t have to be the way it is to exist
        2. It does have to be the way it is for us to exist
        3. Extremely complex design requires an explanation that is not bound by the laws of physics
  2. LIFE
    1. Meaningful Realities
      1. Human consciousness; free-agency; and meaning
        1. Materialism, etc. cannot give us a plausible explanation for their existence.
  3. ETHICS
    1. Objective, prescriptive ethics
      1. Duties and Human Values
        1. Universally objective law
        2. Murder is always wrong
        3. Moral values are built into reality, our existence
        4. Why is there not absolute moral chaos?
          1. Atheism: Morality is invented, descriptive, and subjective
          2. Nazism could have been considered right, if they won the war!
    2. Problem of Good
      1. Why is there good?
      2. This is equally as important to answer as is the question of ‘why there is evil?’.
  4. ABSTRACTIONS
    1. Numbers; Logic; Propositions
      1. Conceptual realities
        1. Never in your life have you seen a number
          1. “9” is a symbol that represents a notion of nineness
          2. These make life meaningful and intelligible
            1. These come from the mind of God
            2. They are unexplainable on the basis of matter alone
              1. Physicalism; Materialism
  5. RELIGION
    1. Sense of the divine
      1. Awareness of God
      2. Universal religiosity of humanity
        1. Inherent in man
        2. Intuitive awareness
    2. Jesus Christ
      1. Called himself “God”
        1. “I am.”  (Jn.8)
        2. Matchless moral character
          1. In three years…turned the world upside-down
          2. Prolific miracle work
            1. His enemies never denied that He did them!
            2. Messianic prophecies
              1. Fulfilled
            3. Empty tomb
              1. Post-mortem appearances
              2. 500+ witnesses
            4. Paul’s conversion
              1. From Judaism to Christianity
                1. The equivalent of Hitler becoming a Jew!

The Christian faith, based upon the Holy Bible, makes the most sense of life, of reality.

AUDIO: Christ and Culture (debate)

Here’s the first in a series of debates on the relationship between Christ and Culture.  I’ve only listened to the first installment and it proved a worthy listen.  I’m going to assume the same could be said for the remainder.

Go here:  Christ and Culture: Introductory Remarks

Other files here:  Archive for the ‘Christ and Culture’ Category

KINGDOM: Two Kingdoms of God vs “Christendom”

Here’s a conversation that might begin to answer nagging questions like this one: “What is the Kingdom of God?” If you have the least interest in knowing the answer, it might be worth a half hour of your time. (((WARNING))) This isn’t something that promotes “Religious Right” or “Moralistic Left” ideologies.

Kingdom of God (part 1)

Kingdom of God (part 2)

ISLAM: More Than A Religion!

Among all the programs I’ve heard about Islam, this one by the folks at the White Horse Inn is probably at the very top:  Christianity Confronts Islam

Muslim scholar and former professor of Shari’ah law, Sam Solomon, helps answer questions like:

What is the meaning of Jihad?

Is Islam really a religion of peace?

What does the Koran say about terrorism?

There is little doubt in my mind that our (and our children’s) days will continue to be filled with conversation and (mis-) information about what Islam is and how/why it functions in the manner it does.  This program helps provide a sieve whereby we can begin to sift through the glut of so-called information thrown our way.

A sample of what’s discussed in this program:

  • God created only Muslims.
    1. All who don’t submit to Allah are ultimately those who are apostate, having broken away from Allah’s original design.
  • Christians and Jews are the worst of Allah’s creatures
  • Islam is not a mere Religion, but is a system containing ALL of the following dynamics:
    1. Socio-economic
    2. Socio-judicial
    3. Socio-legislative
    4. Socio-militaristic
    5. Socio-religious
    6. Socio-familial
    7. Etc. (it is a complete worldview; a culture-wide system; ALL is to be made holy…in EVERYTHING being brought into open/active submission to Allah!)
      1. ALL crime is sin
      2. ALL sin is crime
      3. Insubordinate (apostate) ones are enemies of Islam/The State
  • Muslims can lie (even under “oath”), and in this not only avoiding violating the way of Allah but actually enhances it.
    1. Particularly in cases involving non-Muslims (infidels)
    2. Shake hands with the infidel, you may; but be sure to wash before going to prayers.
  • The Koran is not to be subjected to any criticism whatsoever!!!
    1. Not a single teaching of the Koran is to be question.
      1. A child is not to ask: “Was Mohammad really a prophet of Allah?”
  • The Koran is to be treated with TOTAL reverence.
    1. There is to be no questioning of the historical veracity of the Koran.
    2. A good Muslim is to ignore the open contradictions of the Koran:
      1. I.e., “Mary is both:  Moses’ sister / Jesus’ mother!”
  • Blind “submission” is to be given to the Koran, without any hesitance whatsoever.
  • Hitler and the Nazis were greatly appreciated by Islam
    1. Nazis protected Muslims, providing safe havens for them in European countries.
    2. Nazis persecuted Jews and Christians, for which Islam is grateful.
  • Europeans (governments and churches) have come to embrace the role of Islam, both abroad and at home (in Europe).
    1. Liberal European Churches
      1. The Council of European Bishop’s Conferences
        1. Quote:  “Another important area of work is relations with Islam in Europe, carried on jointly with the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences.”
      2. They accept Mohammad as a Prophet of the Old Testament and that Jesus was a Muslim.
        1. Quote from Issues in Christian-Muslim Relations: Ecumenical Considerations“The prophets, many of whom are the great figures of the Bible Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist and Jesus Son of the Virgin Mary – all brought essentially the same message. Ultimately, God sent Muhammad as His final Prophet, confirming and validating the messages of all earlier prophets and entrusting him with the Qur’an, the literal, complete, perfect revelation of God’s message and will. Consequently, Islam claims to be at one and the same time both universal and particular. Every child born into the world is by nature a “Muslim”, for Islam is held to be the primordial and natural religion. In the Qur’an, figures like Abraham, Jesus and his disciples, who lived before Muhammad, are called “Muslims”.”
      3. Just a glance at this book The European Union, Turkey and Islam will give one a flavor for what’s taking place.
    2. European Governments
      1. There is something of an Islamic Revolution taking place in Europe, to which books like this one attests: Eurabia: the Euro-Arab Axis
  • The so-called “War on Terror” fails to see the whole picture.
    1. “Jihad” is incarnate in the entire Muslim way, not merely in an “Insurgency”.
      1. The challenge that the West faces is that Jihad is often ‘faceless’, as it operates in the West.
  • The Koran espouses “terror”
    1. “The Jews and Christians say: ‘We are the children of God and His loved ones.’ Say: ‘Why then does He punish you for your sins?” (Surah 5:18)
    2. “Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme.” (Surah 8:36-)
    3. “Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it.” (Surah 2:216)
    4. “Slay them wherever you find them…Idolatry is worse than carnage…Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God’s religion reigns supreme.” (Surah 2:190-)
    5. “…make war on the leaders of unbelief…Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them…” (Surah 9:12-)
    6. “If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men.” (Surah 9:37-)
  • The Koran denies Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion:
    1. “‘How shall I bear a child,’ she [Mary] answered, ‘when I am a virgin…?’ ‘Such is the will of the Lord,’ he replied. ‘That is no difficult thing for Him…God forbid that He [God[ Himself should beget a son!…Those who say: ‘The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,’ preach a monstrous falsehood…” (Surah 19:12-, 29-, 88)
    2. “The God will say: ‘Jesus, son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind ‘Worship me and my mother as gods besides God?’ ‘Glory to You, ‘he will answer, ‘how could I ever say that to which I have no right?” (Surah 5:114-)
    3. “Say: ‘Praise be to God who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in His Kingdom…” (Surah 17:111)
    1. “Christ was not crucified (Surah 4:157) but those who believed He never died should ponder over this verse (i.e. 33 of Surat al-Maryam)”.

TRANSLATION: Relativizing the Gospel

Another good program over at the White Horse Inn, featuring William Willimon: Faulty Translations

Willimon sees “Christianity is kind of like a foreign language that one is not born with,” which sadly “many preachers today are attempting to “translate” …into familiar and comfortable terms that people are used to, but the result, he argues, is that things get “lost in translation.””

Willimon points out the following:

1)       The Gospel is not to be translated as Therapy.

2)       The Gospel is not another Commodity.

3)       The Gospel is not another Life-Style Choice.

4)      The Gospel is not something you are born with.

5)       The Gospel is not User-Friendly.

6)      The Gospel does not make sense to/in this World.

7)       The Gospel creates a different world, with a different focus (i.e., Cross-eyed).

8)      The Gospel creates a counter-culture.

9)      The Gospel can make Life a bit more difficult.

10)    The Gospel is not a word about Glory (God’s making all things glorious now).

11)     The Gospel is a word of Grace (God’s condescension to sinners).

Willimon suggests asking this one question:

“When listening to a sermon, would Christ need to be CRUCIFIED in order to make this sermon work?”

Meaning, if the sermon works without Christ’s birth/godly-life/death/burial/raising/reigning, then, the sermon is not Christian.  It may be informational and/or ethical, but to be fails to be CHRISTIAN (rooted in the New Covenant!) by not preaching Him (1Cor.1.23; 2 Cor.1.19; 2Cor.4.5; Col.1.28; 1Tim.3.16).

FUNDAMENTALISM: An Honest Atheist’s Perspective

Todd Wilken of Issues, Etc. interviewed Bruce Sheiman; author “An Atheist Defends Religion”.  A very interesting conversation, between a believer and a fairly honest atheist.  Interesting how sound a perspective Bruce (the atheist) had on Fundamentalism, of the right (religion) and the left (scientism); both, having an equally distorted worldview.

For the interview go here:

An Atheist’s Perspective on the Value of Religion

ME!: Narcissism

The folks over at the White Horse Inn have produced another worthwhile program: White Horse Inn : Narcissism Epidemic

Narcissism (self-focus) is discussed as being a root cause, psychologically speaking, of many troubles that our society faces, even those economical. 

Mike Horton converses with author and professor Jean Twenge about her latest book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.  Jean has some interesting insights, such as the principle of “inflation” and how it bears upon ‘self-image’ at both an individual and societal level (and everywhere in between). 

The conversation helps to bring into focus the role that Narcissism plays in things such as parenting, the media, Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, etc), and easy credit. 

Though I disagree with some of the discussion about the “Greatest Generation” (that is, the Depression/WW2 generation), viewing it as something of a Golden Age (the Greater America), there’s no doubt that our day (generation) is faced with some very sobering consequences of our buying into the psychobabble of yesteryear. 

For another interesting and related WHI program, see: Boredom and Entertainment  with author Richard Winter, Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment.

PREACHING: Why Johnny Can’t (4th post)

We left off last time (in our discussion about Why Johnny Can’t Preach) with a remark about the alleged Pauline statement regarding the “folly of preaching”.  I claimed that Paul did not say such.  Let us look at the text itself:

1 Corinthians 1 (ESV)

V.17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

V. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

V.19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

V.20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

V.21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

V.22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,

V.23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

V.24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Notice that it is not “preaching” that the World considers folly.  No, rather, it is “WHAT we preach” that is folly, not preaching in and of itself (v.21).  The world and its churches preach all the time (v.20).  The world has its own proclamation.  So I dare say it is not “preaching” proper that is the problem (folly) but the Cross (God’s humiliation saving sinners).  Christ (God’s anointed) crucified for sinners is folly.  It is folly to the world (undiscerning; see 1Cor.2.14), that, CHRIST, dead and risen, is the power and wisdom of God. 

Why do I bother to stress this?  Because all too often folks are thinking that preaching itself is the answer (almost regardless of what’s preached).  In addition, too often this proclamation is being reserved for the pulpit.  Anything taking place outside the pulpit is somehow inferior.  I simply do not buy a high-church tendency that hijacks the Gospel ministry, chaining it to an elevated desk.  Granted, wherever the Gospel is proclaimed/taught God be thanked, but let us not quarantine the Word of Life to one platform when there are other acceptable ones.

Notice too, that Paul understands that a “polished” ministry is not only what the World wants (is wooed by) but is something that in itself can empty the Cross of its divine power and wisdom.  There was no shortage of such “eloquent wisdom” in Corinth and Paul knew it, repeating the matter multiple times (see 1Cor.2.1; 2.4; 2Cor.4.2; & 10.10). 

Consider also the following from the JFB Commentary:

“not with wisdom of words” — or speech; philosophical reasoning set off with oratorical language and secular learning, which the Corinthians set so undue a value upon (1Co_1:5; 1Co_2:1, 1Co_2:4) in Apollos, and the want of which in Paul they were dissatisfied with (2Co_10:10).

In sum, then, it would be the case that Christ himself is foolishness and eloquent preaching (particularly that which only allows Jesus to make guest appearances) a subtraction.  Reader beware…not only the World but believers too stumble at Christ crucified being the simple and sufficient means whereby God does His salvationing, all of it, beginning to end, from here to glory. 

One last post to come…

PREACHING: Why Johnny Can’t (3rd post)

Again, we are dealing here with the discussion between Mike Horton and T. David Gordon (WHI program: Why Johnny Can’t Preach) on how the ‘medium is the message.’

Gordon explains that the “sermonic portrait” delivered well, makes all the difference.  He understands that the messenger is to be shaped by the medium of high-end literary works in order for the message to penetrate the hearers.  It is almost as if he is failing to account for the working of the Holy Spirit, not by carnal weapons, but by the Gospel itself. I understand it is not likely that he forgets this entirely, but only that he is caught up in something that is a life-occupation for him. 

As I have said in the previous posts, the Gospel shapes the messenger, the message, and the hearer(s).  No doubt, Gordon believes this, unfortunately though, this does not come across loud and clear, but is muffled by the cry for a more literarily astute clergy. 

Gordon also reminds us (and rightly so) that ours is not a WORD-shaped culture but an IMAGE-driven culture (TV, DVD’s, etc).  Here again, as an academician he wants to bring the full weight of top-notch literature to bear.  Granted, a televised people can tend to be a trivial lot.  Mush for minds is not a good thing.  What is needed though is not well-read people filling the ranks (and pulpit), but a believing people.  Is not Christ’s person and work, simply preached, sufficient to create and sustain believers?  Do not the people of God need a continual refreshing and gradual deepening in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in all of Scripture? 

Word-shaped?  Yes!  Nevertheless, it is content, not style, that is our foremost concern.  Where there is genuine content (Gospel-concentrated content), we have reason to hope for preachers (and laypersons alike) to present in plain speech the glories of Christ, for all to hear.  Yes, we might end up with people who are not so full of themselves as to present their style as Gospel.  Heaven knows, there is plenty of that to go around.

Next, Gordon utilizes this supposed biblical notion of the “folly of preaching”.  What?  Where does Paul ever speak like this?  I know, I know…in the First Letter to the Corinthians, right?  Wrong.  Look again at the text (1Cor.1.17-24; & 2.14)!  Let us deal with this text next time.

Stay tuned…

PREACHING: Why Johnny Can’t (2nd post)

As stated in the previous post, “I believe Gordon places too much hope in being literarily astute, rather than in the literal Gospel.” 

To begin, Mike Horton and T. David Gordon (WHI program: Why Johnny Can’t Preach) discuss how the ‘medium is the message.’  How the medium (media) does things both ‘for’ and ‘to’ us.  Ok; so far so good. 

The concern is how Gordon sees literature (not just the Bible, but also all high-end literature) shaping a minister of the Gospel.  He alleges that reading and studying literature (poetry, classic works, etc) are a key tool in creating the abilities to “preach the Gospel” in a way that is best.  The reason why we have so many poor sounding preachers (perhaps upwards of 75%), so David says, is due to their not having been trained in things like classic literature.  (Wow, sounds a lot like Doug Wilson and company with their Trivium.)  These poor preachers are people who could not write their way out of a wet paper bag.

Gordon’s literary prowess is to be respected and all, but I have a real hard time imagining that the chief problem we face in the pulpit has to do with not enough literary studies.  I fear that he is engaged here in that same search many others are on…for those days gone by, with an eye toward an era that “took things more seriously”, especially literature.  Granted, we can be ignoramuses about the World (classic literature, poetry, etc), but I honestly do not believe that this has too awful much to do with why the Word (all Scripture in the Light of the Gospel) is not soundly preached.  Gordon is barking up the wrong tree.

Now, I am with Gordon in regards to the majority of preaching being terrible.  However, for Gordon the problem is the style of delivery; whereas, it would seem to the content that is of concern.  Give me a common country-bumpkin pastor who knows and loves Christ (like Peter, James, and John), preaching Him from all the Text, and I would say we have something.  I have listened (as I am sure you have too) to enough “finely educated” people in my life to know that this does not necessitate one’s getting and keeping the Cross of Christ dead-center. 

The problem does not happen to be an uneducated clergy in regards to the World, but that men are not being schooled in the Word of Christ.  They come to believe, somehow, that the Bible has something other than Christ and Him crucified at its core and that the church needs to hear about “something other”.  Men simply do not believe that the Gospel (God revealed in humiliation) itself is sufficient to shape the messenger, message, and hearers into conformity to Christ’s image.  Rather, we get all in a tizzy because things are not happening fast enough.  This is not a new problem due to our failing to be literarily solid.  No, it is an age-old problem… this Age Old problem. God’s work of redemption in Christ alone is sufficient and simple enough to affect whatever God would create by this Word of Christ.  Unbelief is the problem, and yes, we all struggle with it!  Get used to it.  Do not try to get around it by circumventing the Gospel.

This bring us then… to the Gospel, as God’s exclusive tool in revealing Himself and creating a people for His name’s sake?  So yes, as Gordon points out, media “tools” work both for and upon us; yet, God’s tool is Christ crucified and risen being projected by words into the ears of the hearers.  This is God’s means whereby men (sinners) are being drawn unto Him.

Stay tuned…….

PREACHING: Why Johnny Can’t (1st post)

Well, I just finished listening to last week’s WHI program featuring T. David Gordon and his book Why Johnny Can’t Preach.  It makes for an interesting conversation between Horton and Gordon.  One will hear Gordon in his prime.

I for one appreciate T. David Gordon, particularly for his labors in teaching the structural (covenantal) framework of all Scripture as it centers on the Gospel (person and work of Christ).  In addition, his ability to keep this (the Gospel) distinct from God’s working within the church (you and I), all the while helping us understand the relationship between the two – the Gospel and our growing in Christ. 

As an aside, a word about those who incessantly desire to make the Gospel to include what God does “in” us along with what the Gospel is…the personal and particular work of the God-Man.  This is what some would call the “Gospel in the broader sense”.  Well, I for one do not buy it.  Sorry, but it is true.  In their claiming that the Gospel incorporates our lives in this way, they end up with an existential baseline (usually themselves) upon which we are to place our hopes, rather than solely in Christ himself.  It is a very subtle shift, but a shift away from the Gospel nonetheless.

The folks over at Creed or Chaos hit this on the head: “We take from the gospel whenever we add to it, therefore, let us be satisfied with its overflowing fullness.”

Now, back to our program…at the WHI.

In following this conversation by T. David Gordon around the Internet (and in the book), it seems that his writing as a dying man did not make for the best context in which to write this kind of book.  There is much one can appreciate about the book, surely.  However, I fear that David’s natural tendency to be inflammatory and his preoccupation with his occupation (academician) both end up distracting us from the real fault as to why most sermons one will hear are sub-standard.  His being on what appeared then to be a ‘death-bed’ seems to have made it all the easier for David to “let loose” at what has long nagged at him, but ends up somewhat wide of the mark of what has always turned the church to preaching everything but Christ. 

In the next post, I intend to share thoughts gathered from this program.  Let me just conclude here by saying that Gordon’s remarks have an entirely different air about them as opposed to John Piper’s or Ken Jones’:  BROTHERS, WE ARE NOT PROFESSIONALS! 

Ken Jones’ message here: The Joy of Preaching the Gospel of God

Though some of what Ken Jones says coincides with T. David Gordon, I believe Gordon places too much hope in being literarily astute, rather than in the literal Gospel

Stay tuned, more to come……

SANCTIFICATION: God to man (not the inverse)

Here is an interesting conversation by the folks over at Reformed Forum along with Richard Gaffin.  What is interesting (at least in my mind) is how difficult a time these brethren have in calling Sanctification a work that is ENTIRELY God’s. 

If you care to listen to only part of the conversation where they get into the ‘nitty-gritty,’ try listening from 40:00 min onward.

Gaffin makes two very interesting remarks:

1)   The ‘Guilt-Grace-Gratitude’ model that many within the Reformed camp hold to does not hold up under Scriptural scrutiny.

2)   Referring to G.C. Berkower (though there is angst in his doing so by the others), he expresses quite plainly that “good works” in sanctification are “not the way of man to God, but of God to man.”  Meaning, it is entirely a work of God.

Sadly, as things are wrapping up, the other fellows toss in two comments that are seemingly polar to what Gaffin just finished saying.  Nonetheless, Gaffin is cordial enough to leave it at that; not to say that he himself entirely avoids working man’s will back into the equation during the course of the conversation. 

 Anyway, check it out here:  Sanctification and the Gospel

GOSPEL: Seeing Things As They Are

Another good program by the guys at WHI:  Gospel Driven

Really appreciate what’s said concerning:

1)   Paul’s finding the Gospel (Cross of Christ) to always be the context for seeing things as they are.

2)   The fear/ignorance that b(l)inds men from preaching Christ crucified as the Sum/Substance of faith and life…that which guards and nurtures the body of Christ.

Worship: Being busy or bust?

 

This post is a follow-up on my previous one, regarding Miles McKee’s efforts to awaken the Church from its spiritual stupor, all the while it is dancing about Itself and not Christ.

                                  

Here again are the two links from which my comments below are taken:   

The Christ Centered Believer  (SERMON BY MILES)

The Gospel and the Believer-centered Believer  (TRANSCRIPT OF SAME SERMON)

 

NOTES:

1… We are busy (Mt.7.21-23) making self-centered GOATS into self-centered SHEEP.

2… We are busy converting the “empty” unbeliever into believers who are “full” of themselves.

3… We are busy confusing people with ideas that their being sinners is due to something they did; rather than…teaching that Adam’s sin made us sinners and Christ’s righteousness makes us saints.  In other words, “redemption” is not about what God did in us, but apart from us in Christ himself.  And that, it is Christ himself (Gal.2.20), who is the source of our life, that is our wisdom, our righteousness, and sanctification and redemption (1Cor.1.30). 

4… We are busy making a spectacle of ourselves before a watching world, rather than our being a people who are much consumed with the Specter of Christ, through Word and Sacrament (1Cor.1.23; Col.1.28).

5… We are busy trying to IM-ME-DIATELY make people “feel good” about themselves, without exalting Christ who died for their ULTIMATE good.

6… We are busy making/maintaining ‘self-centered’ believers who remain disinterested in, bored with, Christ Jesus and Him crucified/risen.

7… We are busy curtailing our message to a culture which knows both a cheap product (culturally-relevant ministry) and a cheap imposter (Christ-less religion) when it sees it!

 

*** May the Lord have mercy in making us GET OVER OURSELVES!!!

 

 

 

 

Centered: On Christ or Christian?

Here is what I suspect would be a discussion with a little bite (in a good way!).  Most churches that you either attend, or minister at, are very likely to be found having succumbed to this Gospel-less, Cross-less, Christ-less blight that I have mentioned here before and Miles McKee (in the following sermon) addresses at ‘point-blank-range.’

If you have the stomach (a Spirit wrought fortitude rooted in the Gospel) for it, PLEASE, take some time to listen to and/or read the following:

The Christ Centered Believer  (SERMON BY MILES)

The Gospel and the Believer-centered Believer  (TRANSCRIPT OF SAME SERMON)

My next post will consist of a handful of notes that capture highlights from Miles’ comments.