"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Paradox

The good news is about the death of the only truly innocent man who ever lived.

The greatest crime ever committed is the only atonement for sin.

Death was overcome by the death of Jesus.

The good news is about the death of the Creator at the hand of His creations.

The King of Glory died a shameful death.

God the Son who had lived a life in perfect harmony with the will of the Father was forsaken by the Father.

The good news is about the perfect, holy, and righteous Judge of all justifying the guilty.

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thoughts on Worship for Easter

I was reading chapter 2 of John Owen's Communion with the Triune God this evening, and came across the following quote (p. 97):
Faith, love, trust, joy, etc., are the natural or moral worship of God, whereby those in whom they are have communion with him.
I remember sitting in a Sunday morning service as a young believer (less than 2 years after the Father had drawn me to His Son) listening to a sermon where worship was mentioned. Not having grown up in church, it was a word I knew, but not a word with which I had wrestled. I made a note to myself: "What is worship?"

I'm not so young a believer anymore, that sermon being over 20 years in the past. But sometimes I still wonder how well I understand what worship is. It does, I believe, occur when we gather together and sing praises to God and offer up our prayers to Him and listen to the proclamation of His word.

But Owen has written what I have long struggled to formulate in my own mind. Worship of God is in large part a display of His image within us. That image being things like faith, love, trust, joy, hope, peace, etc. It is in this worship that we have the deepest communion with God.

Here the sun has set on Good Friday. In the time we are honoring and remembering, Jesus is in the tomb, and the disciples are scattered and hiding. But hope was not gone, just hidden, wrapped in a veil of death. So also hope may seem to be gone from some of our lives.

May we in those darkest nights worship God by believing, by loving, by trusting, by rejoicing and by hoping even though all reason for hope seems gone. Gazing not only at the cross but also at the empty tomb and knowing that our greatest enemies have been defeated by Jesus, who has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

Happy Easter. The Lord has risen!

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, March 09, 2008

How Many Apply Here?

I don't read a lot of Internet Monk's stuff, but his post on 10 Reasons I Don't Read Your Blog seems pretty spot on to me (HT: Vitamin Z).

Labels:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Speaking of Hermenuetics

There's a great post on Sola Scriptura over at the Pilgrim People blog by Michael Brown (HT: R. Scott Clark). One of the struggles I've had is how to approach the Scriptures recognizing both that the Holy Spirit is my greatest teacher, but that there is a rich history of His having taught others. I think to divorce ourselves from 2000 years of Church history is a categorical mistake.

If we make this mistake, we will pay a steep price. Brown notes:
Oddly enough, this kind of dismissal of historic theology actually does violence to Christ’s promise to his Apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (Jn 16.13) and bring to their remembrance all things (Jn 14.26) in order that Scripture would be preserved for the instruction of the church until the end of the age (Mt 24.35; 28.20). The early-American biblicists seemed to give no credit at all to the Holy Spirit’s work in history of gifting Christ’s church with pastors and teachers; rather, the early-American biblicists see the Spirit’s true work in ministry being that of immediate revelation and privatized religion. Ironically, the biblicists’ seeking of direct revelation and a “tabula rasa” illumination compromises their claim of “no creed but the Bible,” as one's personal experience is inevitably elevated to the place of Scripture.

Tragically, however, things have not changed for the better. As Hatch chillingly points out, “Americans continue to maintain their right to shape their own faith and to submit to leaders they have chosen.” The result of eighteenth and nineteenth century biblicism has been a church that increasingly looks less like New Testament Christianity and more like the egalitarian culture in which she lives. Populist hermeneutics and privatized, experiential religion has continuously had wide appeal to the American individualistic ethos. The “chronological arrogance,” to borrow C.S. Lewis’ maxim, of disparaging tradition and centuries of theologizing persists with cavalier vigor.

Hebrews 11 reminds us that we stand in a long line of those who have walked with God. That line does not stop with the closing of the canon but continues on even today. The Bible makes it clear that none of these are without fault, and therefore are not the primary resource. But they are faithful men who have passed truth on to other faithful men, eventually down to us. So while the Bible is always the final authority, my interpretation is not. I must always check my own biases by testing my interpretation against those who have come before and are contemporary with me.

What say you?

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 29, 2008

How Conservative Is Your Hermenuetic?

This link was sent to me earlier in the week. It's a 20 question quiz to determine how you approach Scripture. For those curious, I scored a 44, but I'm not sure the numbers mean much. As much as the terminology pains me, I would want to have a conversation about why a particular choice was made before even attempting to label the choice.

Now, I love the little quizzes like this. Anyone taken the "What kind of sports car are you quiz?" (HT: Craver) But that is more of a fun thing. How we interpret Scripture is important, and I'm not sure a number based on 20 questions can determine if we are conservative, moderate, or progressive. Some of the questions, I think at least, are not conservative versus liberal, like the question of prophecy (number 7). It is a very interesting question in thinking about how we interpret Scripture, but I'm not convinced how we answer it says anything about whether that interpretation is conservative or progressive.

So thinking about our hermeneutic and discussing how we reach conclusions when reading Scripture is a great idea. I'm just not sure the ranking is helpful. But with that said, just what was your score? :)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Civility

I've always benefited from reading Os Guinness. The Call is one of the best books I've read and I've given out several copies. According to the Discerning Reader review of A Case for Civility it is a must read for me as well. In this election year, it might just be a good read for all of us. A brief blurb from the review:
Much of the answer to whether or not we’ll learn to live with our deepest differences depends on rejecting two erroneous responses to the culture wars. First, we must say no to a “sacred public square”—a situation where one religion has a position of privilege or prominence that is denied to others. As he refutes the sacred public square, Guinness laments the state of the Religious Right and the damage it has done to faith in America. We must also say no to a “naked public square”—the situation where public life is left devoid of any religion. This is what is advocated by the new atheists. Both of these responses to the culture war are in contradiction to the Constitution.

The alternative to both is a “civil public square.” “The vision of a civil public square is one in which everyone—peoples of all faiths, whether religious or naturalistic—are equally free to enter and engage public life on the basis of their faiths, as a matter of ‘free exercise’ and as dictated by their own reason and conscience; but always within the double framework, first of the Constitution, and second, of a freely and mutually agreed covenant, or common vision for the common good, of what each person understands to be just and free for everyone else, and therefore of the duties involved in living with the deep differences of others.” If we are to have a civil society, we must first have a civil public square.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Owen and Paul on the Trinity and Salvation

In January a small group started meeting monthly to read and discuss Communion with the Triune God, John Owen's classic work edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor. In January we reviewed the historical context and biography of John Owen and we had our second meeting this morning and discussed Chapter 1. Owen specifically aims in the book to discuss how we have communion with each member of the Trinity distinctly. In fact, his original title for the work was Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Each Person Distinctly, in Love, Grace, and Consolation: or The Saints Fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost Unfolded.

This evening, Pastor Williams preached on Ephesians 2:11-22. I've always thought of Ephesians as a very Trinitarian epistle. Primarily this was based on Paul's discourse in the 1:3-14 about the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in salvation. But look at Ephesians 2:18-22:
for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (NASB)
Twice in these five verses Paul elaborates on how some aspect of our salvation is through each Person of the Trinity acting on our behalf. We have access through Jesus and His flesh. The access is to the Father but it is in one Spirit. It is the Spirit who applies the work of Christ so that we might enter into the presence of the Father.

We are also becoming a temple. This building occurs as we are united to Jesus and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul sees not just Jesus but also the Father and Son working in our lives and restoring us to fellowship (communion) with God. Owen recognized this emphasis in the Bible and sought to convey this great truth to his readers.

Do we know this? Do we spend time dwelling on how God is for us as believers? That the Father has set forth the plan of redemption? That the Son humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross for our redemption? That the Spirit has applied the work of the Son and indwells us to secure our redemption? May God shine the light of this truth into your heart and mine.

Labels: , , ,