TRUST: Reliability of Apostolic Witness

“The whole of the Christian faith is based on certain historical realities, occurrences and statements that happened sometime in the past.  These events have to do, fundamentally, with the identity of one man, Jesus of Nazareth.  Can we trust the information we have about Him?”

Read entire article:  Matthew and John on the Witness Stand

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PEEVISH: In “Reformed” Style

Something I posted over at Andrew Fuller Study Center:

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Clark says: “Baptists were not recognized as Reformed. Why not? Because paedobaptism was regarded as essential to the Reformed faith.”

Okay. And why should I care if this notion of “REFORMED” faith is something I fit into as Clark says I should? Brothers, let Clark have his playpen-understanding of “REFORMED”. Let him kick and scream that we are “have-not’s”. Let him have his corner. Let him make more of “REFORMED” than the essence of Christianity…Christ crucified, our only boast.

Of course we are thankful for the Gospel-awakening that took place during Reformational times. We’d be arrogant if we didn’t appreciate and learn from the unveiling of the Gospel in those days. However, shame on us (!) if we fail to keep our focus upon Christ alone, boasting about Him!

Let’s bear with our brother, Clark, who sees us as misfits, stepchildren, stillborns. He will bear (even so now) the consequence of clinging more tightly to a debatable doctrine, than he does us in Christ.

Let’s bear our brother up in prayer before the Father of all believers.

(((PS…Clark’ demeanor reminds me of my own when I’m peeved at those I once stood with, whom I once thought well of, but afterward see them as betraying me in this way or that.)))

DOGMATISM: Flesh-beat-en(-ing)

A thought or two regarding Fundamentalism.

A leading characteristic of Fundamentalism would be Dogmatism.  This is really nothing more than a Letter-driven (as opposed to Spirit-driven (Gospel-based and -contextualized)) approach.  Instead of a ‘faith’ in Christ orientation, the Dogmatist’s way is generally one rooted in ‘fear’ – though lip service is paid to the Gospel.  The latter has a way of *driving* sheep (the believer, the local church) this-way-and-that, whereas the former sees the Gospel ministry as one of *guiding* the sheep in the Way (in faith toward Christ…for all of salvation…sanctification included). 

Here’s what I’m getting at… anything that is said/done in the name of Christ that isn’t consciously and intentionally – rooted and grounded in the Gospel – is something other than a Gospel ministry, no matter how “moral”/”biblical” it sounds.  Ours is not to be “biblical” but “Christian” and I think we can be found standing in the former without possessing the latter necessarily.  We are not then to be found in Moses seat (Mt.23.2).  Subscription to “biblical norms” does not mean one is clinging in faith to Christ for each and every aspect of salvation…including His growing us up grace and knowledge of Him (i.e., sanctification, godliness). 

Paul puts it this way…there are those of us who “have the form (appearance) of godliness, but essentially deny its power” (2Tim.3.5).  For godliness is not ours to strive after as some commodity on the shelf that is just there for our taking, but the very working of God in us a faith and love, that, consistently beholds Christ’s righteousness/godliness (1Tim.1.4), and are thereby sovereignly and progressively brought into the likeness of His Image (2Cor.3.18).  In this way, Paul thought of Christ as our sanctification (1Cor.1.30).  The Gospel itself (the truth about Christ’s incarnation, righteousness, death, resurrection, and ascension…His doing not ours) is the only thing whereby God brings about the peaceable fruits of righteousness among His people (Phil.1.11; Col.1.6).

In other words, the Flesh can strive in form and yet never connect to the Source…Christ crucified and risen (Rom.8.3-15).  How we answer the following betrays our actual stance toward God and our brother:  “Are disciples of Christ made by 1) inputting the right commands, or are they 2) fashioned by beholding (Christ’s glory in the scandal of the Cross) and thereby found living in the Way?”

As I’ve said before…fundamentalism is readily found wherever people are finding their hope to be in their law-keeping and not Christ’s (even where we don’t do this in regards to justification, but more so sanctification). This is true of even we who claim to embrace the doctrines of grace.  A sounder grasp of the relationship of the Law/Gospel (particularly what the two have to do with Christ himself) genuinely and lastingly keeps things in a Christian perspective.

Just two cents worth.

Covenant: A Governing Thought

One more program from Issues, Etc.. 

Go here, to listen to Kim Riddlebarger discuss the differences/similarities between Calvinism and Lutheranism.   Helpful conversation.  Kim expresses pretty well the basic difference as having to do with the biblical notion of “covenant(s)” and how it needs to govern one’s reading of Scripture.   

ELECTION & Declaring Independence

Another informative and refreshing program at the White Horse Inn:    Election & Declaring Independence

The boys’ discussion pertained to :

1)     Election: It is in the Bible…everyone believes it — in some sense 

 

2)     Electing: Who is doing it?  (see Rom.8.28-30 – “called according to his purpose” not according to ‘foreknowledge’)

 

3)     Reprobation: The result of Adam’s work — Now man’s birth right and will

Election: On the basis of Christ’s work — God had to do all that pertains to salvation

 

4)     Modern Western Struggle w/ Sovereignty: In a climate of Independency  — “Hey, wait a minute; I did at least a little something right!”

 

5)     ‘Christ choosing you’ & ‘You choosing Christ’: It’s both, with the latter as the fruit of the former – see Jn.1.12-13; Eph.2.8-10; Phil.2.12-13 — We believe because He has made us willing and able to do so…thru the Gospel.

 

6)     Salvation (from ‘east to west’) is from the Lord — Just as there’s ‘no where’ and ‘no place’ that God is not Creator, so too, there’s no where in the believer’s faith that He’s not the Creator of New Life.

Vote! A Biblical Mandate?

Are we bound by a biblical mandate to vote?  If not, what place does the ecclesiastical sphere have in imposing such as a question of morality?  Personally, I suppose mine is at least an average interest in things political, yet, I have my doubts as to this being of the essence to one’s being a earnest disciple of Jesus Christ, witness to the Gospel itself.

Dan Bryant (a former assistant attorney general to the US Dept. of Justice and a theologically reformed brother) reasoned that, for the church to keep from “losing its way” and to be “relevant,” it needs “to precisely have a gaze beyond here and now.  There’s a kind of appropriate inattentiveness to the here and now because the church needs to be caught up with these unchanging great eternal questions and issues.  There is a God.  He is not silent.  He has revealed himself…  That revelation is profoundly relevant to every human on earth.  It [the church] has a lot to do with out trying to become relevant politically, and to try to become relevant politically is to ultimately lose its way.”
 
Bryant further remarked that, “Here’s the relationship.  When you grasp biblical Christianity in all its glorious and colorful highs and lows, and what God has actually done for sinners like us, it produces a humility you take out into the policy arena [or whatever calling you have], ready to acknowledge that you’re not sure what’s right; you’re not sure of the best way forward.  Let’s hear from different perspectives and people.  That’s the relationship perhaps: less of a certainty about the right policy agenda, and more of a proper circumspection and humility.”
 
Dogmatism beyond the bounds of biblical orthodoxy is always susceptible to making non-essentials, essential. 
 
Dan McBride (member of the Democratic Party and a theologically reformed brother) has this to say about “essentials.”  “The risk of trivializing the mission of the church and reducing it to just another civil society interest group is a risk we always have to keep our eyes on.  The risk of the gospel being trivialized and becoming just a kind of political plank is a horrible risk we must avoid at all costs.”  
 
McBride goes on to speak of the “key distinction: the church as the church, distinct from Christians in their this-worldly calling.  …[T]he church as the church has a specific mandate.  It’s in Holy Scripture, and its mandate is not to do politics.  It is to hold forth Christ as the only way that sinners can be reconciled to a holy God.  When it extends beyond that writ, that biblical mandate, it’s left its charter behind.” 
 
Moreover, McBride explains, that: “Folks may recall the old expression that said, “In essentials, unity; in the nonessentials, diversity; and in all things, love.”  Today, those have been inverted.  The Christian right or the Christian left now define the essentials often in political terms and they demand unanimity of view on their pet political prescriptions.  The nonessentials have become doctrine.”
 
Bryant and McBride were both part of a round-table on the White Horse Inn program with Mike Horton.