Saturday, June 30, 2007

Would The Church Fathers Oppose Reformation Teachings?

Recently, I began to read through Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. In the Prefatory Address to King Francis, there is a section where Calvin addresses the charge that the Ancient Church Fathers would oppose Reformation teachings.

As I read this section, I found much of what Calvin stated to be quite interesting. Calvin apparently had a good command of Patristic literature and was able counter the slanderous claims made against the Reformation. Below I want to share some of Calvin's response to those who opposed the Reformation on the basis that the Church Father's would have opposed its teaching:

"[T]hey unjustly set the ancient fathers against us (I mean the ancient writers of a better age of the church) as if in them they had supporters of their own impiety. If the contest were to be determined by patristic authority, the tide of victory -to put it very modestly- would turn to our side. Now these fathers have written many wise and excellent things. Still, what commonly happens to men has befallen them too, in some instances. For these so-called pious children of theirs, with all their sharpness of wit and judgment and spirit, worship only the faults and errors of the fathers. The good things that these fathers have written they either do not notice, or misrepresent or pervert. You might say that their only care is to gather dung amid gold. Then, with a frightful to-do, they overwhelm us as despisers and adversaries of the fathers! But we do not despise them; in fact, if it were to our present purpose, I could with no trouble at all prove that the greater part of what we are saying today meets their approval.

Yet we are so versed in their writings as to remember always that all things are ours [I Cor. 3:21-22], to serve us, not to lord it over us [Luke 22:24-25], and that we all belong to Christ [I Cor. 3:23], whom we obey in all things without exception [cf. Col. 3:20]. He who does not observe this distinction will have nothing certain in religion, inasmuch as these holy men were ignorant of many things, often disagreed among themselves, and sometimes even contradicted themselves.

It is not without cause, they say, that Solomon bids us not to transgress the limits set by our fathers [Prov. 22:28]. But the same rule does not apply to boundaries of fields and to obedience of faith, which must be so disposed that "it forgets its people and its father's house" [Ps. 45:10 p.]. But if they love to allegorize so much, why do they not accept the apostles (rather than anyone else) as the "fathers" who have set the landmarks that it is unlawful to remove?"

From here Calvin makes many interesting points on how certain Catholic traditions were not in keeping with the early Fathers whom the Catholics profess to follow. While I would love to point out some of those now, I will refrain from doing so because I want to quote a section here that is more relevant to some of the dialog that has taken place here on the Mafia blog in recent weeks.

Calvin continues:

"It was a father who deemed that one must listen to Christ alone, for Scripture says, "Hear Him" [Matt. 17:5]; and that we need not be concerned about what others before us either said or did, but only about what Christ, who is the first of all, commanded. When they set over themselves and others any masters but Christ, they neither abode by this boundary nor permitted others to keep it. It was a father who contended that the church ought not set itself above Christ, for he always judges truthfully, but ecclesiastical judges, like other men, are often mistaken. When this boundary is broken through, they do not hesitate to declare that the whole authority of Scripture depends entirely upon the judgment of the church.

All the fathers with one heart would have abhorred and with one voice have detested the fact that God's Holy Word has been contaminated by the subtleties of sophists and involved in the squabbles of dialecticians. When they attempt nothing in life but to enshroud and obscure the simplicity of Scripture with endless contentions and worse than sophistic brawls, do they keep themselves within these borders? Why, if the fathers were now brought back to life,and heard such brawling art as these persons call speculative theology, there is nothing they would less suppose than that these folk were disputing about God!"

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wilson on Irresistible Grace

This is one of those articles, where after I read it I said, "Dang! I wish I had written that."

Speaking of the irresistability of grace, Douglas Wilson compares the new birth in Christ to the first birth in the flesh:

"For some reason, no one wants to admit that the grace of the new birth is irresistible. But for all of us, our first birth was just as irresistible. Moreover, virtually no one complains about this. I was born in 1953, and I do not recall ever being consulted in 1952 about whether I wanted to be born or not. Life was simply thrust upon me, somewhat violently they tell me, and first thing I knew I was playing with toys trucks on the floor of this family’s living room. The name was Wilson, they said, and the prison door clanged shut. No escape now, they said. That whole business was irresistible – makes your skin crawl to think of it. I was now someone’s brother, not someone’s sister, and I hadn’t been asked about my preferences there either. I was an American, not an Englishman, and not a Chinese. I was a Wilson, and not a Williams or Smith. In short, there was good bit of tyranny all round."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

John Piper on Postmodern Error

Error is probably too soft a description...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

God the Judge

If you have not read Fred's post below, I suggest you read it before reading this. Upon recent conversations, it is quite apparent that men do not like to think of God as a judge, exercising punishment and retributive justice for violating his holy law. Listen to this excerpt from J.I. Packer's book knowing God.

Do you believe in divine judgement? By which I mean, do you believe in a God who acts as our Judge? Many, it seems, do not. Speak to them of God as Father, a friend, a helper, one who loves us despite all our weakness and folly and sin, and their faces light up; you are on their wavelength at once. But speak to them of God as Judge and they frown and shake their heads. Their minds recoil from such an idea. They find it repellent and unworthy.

The idea of God as Judge may be repellent and unworthy to natural minds, but what do the Scriptures have to say?

Psalm 75
1We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.
"At the set time that I appoint
I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep steady its pillars.

I say to the boastful, 'Do not boast,'
and to the wicked, 'Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with haughty neck.'"
For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
7but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs
But I will declare it forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

Hebrews 12:21-24

21Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear." 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

The Scriptures are clear that God acts as judge upon humanity. See also Genesis 18:25, Judges 11:27, Psalm 82:8.

God judged Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit and expelled them from the Garden of Ede. God judged wicked humanity in Noah's day and sent the flood as punishment. God Judged those who worshipped the golden calf, using the Levites as his executioners. God judged Nadab and Abihu for offering him strange fire. The judgement of God fell upon Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit. Judgement fell upon the church at Corinth for their abuse of the Lord's Supper.

Friend, if you see God just merely as your friend and helper, and do not believe God to be Judge over all the earth, I pray that today you will not be ignorant of the truth of Scripture. All of humanity has transgressed the law of God, and unless we are found righteous, we will be judged and justly condemned to an eternity in hell. The only way we can be found righteous is to be found in Christ (See Romans 3). It is my prayer that you recognize that your sin is an offence to the character and the law of God and that you repent from your sinful ways and trust in the efficacious work of Christ on the cross in your behalf. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. ~2 Corinthians 5:21

Monday, June 25, 2007

Boyce on the Truth of God

Considering the recent discussion the Mafia has engaged in on the topic of truth, I thought it would be fitting, and perhaps helpful, to allow the pen of Dr. J. P. Boyce to weigh in on the matter. Below is another excerpt from his Abstract of Systematic Theology. (Chapter X. pp. 98 & 99.)


The expression, "truth of God," is ambiguous, and must be considered under the specific terms which set forth its various meanings.

I. His Verity. He is True God. By this is meant, the exact correspondence of the nature of God with the ideal of absolute perfection. The foundation of that ideal may be indeterminable. But, whether it is in the nature of God himself, or in his will proceeding from his nature, or in eternal principles of the fit and the necessary and the right, which exactly coincide with that nature, God and that ideal must be perfect counterparts. That ideal can only be partially comprehended by any of his creatures, because of their imperfections; but it is known by God in all its supreme excellence, and his nature must fully correspond to it as thus known. Otherwise he would not be God.

It is in this aspect of God's truth, that the Scriptures call him the true God. See 2 Chron. 15:3; Jer. 10:10; John 17:3; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 3:7.

II. His Veracity. By this is meant, God's truthfulness or incapacity to deceive. It is an attribute of his nature, which, like his power, exists, and makes him what he is, even though there be no outward relation to it. By virtue of it, he is the source of all truth, not moral only, but even mathematical.

In its relation to God's creatures, it is the foundation of their confidence in the knowledge obtained through the use of their own faculties, whether by intuition, observation or reason. Whatever imperfection there is in such knowledge, is perceived to be due to the creature, and not to God the creator. Upon it is also based belief in the revelations God makes to man of facts beyond the attainment of merely human power.

The Scriptures affirm the veracity of God in the strongest terms. In addition to its assertion in numerous passages, we are told, Ps. 108:4, that his "truth reacheth unto the skies." In Titus 1:2, he is called "God, who cannot lie."

III. His faithfulness. This consists in the truth of God viewed in its relation to his purposes whether secret, or revealed. When revealed, these become either promises, or threats. But as promises, the ground upon which these purposes must be fulfilled is, not any obligation to the creature, for God can come under none, but simply because of his own faithfulness to his purposes. Hence his faithfulness demands equally the performance of his threatenings, as of his promises.

This faithfulness is based upon the veracity of his nature considered above. It is by virtue of that veracity, that God must be faithful; yet the faithfulness is a new aspect, in which God's truthfulness appears.

This faithfulness is the ground both of hope and of fear. In the Scriptures it is more frequently presented as a reason for hope and trust. But it is also the foundation of belief in future judgement and punishment. The faithful God has been true to his threatenings, as well as his promises. His faithfulness assures us that he will so continue.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Greek Word You Should Know


Throughout the Bible, “sarx” is used as a way of describing humanity. We are flesh, as in “flesh and blood.” As beings of flesh (sarx) we are to be distinguished from God, who is spirit (pneuma). However, especially in the writings of Paul, sarx/flesh takes on a new meaning: it becomes a shorthand way of referring to fallen man’s natural rebellion against God, of which we are all guilty.

Here’s a little quiz for you. It’s multiple choice, and only one question. If you get it wrong, no one’s going to fail you or throw rocks at you or anything:

Out of the four following statements, three are paraphrases of Scripture, and one is a line from a stupid song that is sung in a stupid little cartoon movie that kids love. Can you pick out the line that is not Biblical at all?

1. Men cannot follow their natural tendencies and manage to please God.

2. The imagination of your heart is only evil continually.

3. No good thing dwells in me naturally.

4. Your dreams will fly on magical wings, if you follow your heart.

Okay, let’s see how you did. Number 1 is a paraphrase of Romans 8:8, which says, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Number 2 is an application of God’s own assessment of fallen humanity, from Genesis 6:5: “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” As for Number 3, it comes from this verse, Paul’s confession of his own spiritual state without the indwelling presence of Christ: “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing...” (Romans 7:18). The answer is #4. That line is from the movie Thumbelina.

I don’t mean to pick on Thumbelina. It’s no more stupid than any other cartoon that’s ever urged the same advice on kids. That advice is very warm and fuzzy sounding, but it is utter foolishness. “Just follow your heart.”

Okay, just to prove I’m not picking on Thumbelina, I’ll give you a quote that is just as stupid from my favorite movie of all time, Braveheart. At the beginning of the show, young William Wallace has a dream in which his dead father says to him, “You’re heart is free. Have the courage to follow it.” Gag me.

We hear this stuff all the time in our culture. And we hear other wonderful sounding stuff that is just as ignorant of the Truth of the Word of God. How many times for this one: “There’s good in everybody,” or this one, “People are basically good.”

Now, if it shocks you that I list those things as stupid, untruthful lies (which I do) then here is my bet: I bet you’ve never put much effort into reading the Bible. Hey, nothing to get offended about. But if you had, none of this would shock you.

The Bible simply does not teach that all people are basically good. It doesn’t: I’m sorry. Wouldn’t it be nice if it did, and we could all put on our rose-colored glasses and think nice thoughts about each other? But we can’t, because the truth is

God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
- Psalm 53:2-3

Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, the human race has been a race of sinful people. Including me. And including you. Again: I’m sorry. I’m not thrilled about being the one to have to tell you this. But that’s the truth.

Hear again God’s own pronouncement about the natural state of mankind, from Genesis 6:5.

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Right there is the reason why Thumbelina and Braveheart are dead wrong. They’d tell you, follow your heart and your dreams will come true. Follow your heart, for it is free! But God tells you that the heart is “only evil continually.” I wonder what you’ll wind up with after a lifetime of following something that is only evil continually?

Okay, okay, someone will say. That verse you’re quoting is from right before the Flood of Noah, when the earth had grown especially wicked and God wiped it out. That was then, this is now.

Well, that was then, and this is now, but the human heart has ever remained the same. The prophet Jeremiah wrote (thousands of years after the Flood) that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9) The implied answer is, only God can know it.

Wow. That’s amazing isn’t it? “Deceitful above all things.” “Only evil continually.” “Desperately wicked.” At least we can’t accuse the Word of God of beating around the bush!

Let me ask you something. If you were going to try and communicate to someone that something was as bad as bad can be, could you use any stronger language than Scripture has used to describe your own heart?

So, you might ask, what does all of this have to do with the Greek word, “sarx?” Just this: Paul uses sarx, or “flesh,” as a shorthand way of referring to everything we’ve just looked at. Especially in Romans, chapters 7 and 8 (a couple of enormously important chapters as touching the central truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) when Paul uses “flesh,” the stuff in this chapter is what he’s talking about. Flesh means the corrupt, natural human way of doing things, of talking, and of acting, both toward God and one another.

[We need to make an important pit-stop here to clarify something. The Bible does not teach that there is anything inherently evil or sinful about the physical material out of which our bodies our made. Our physical, flesh and blood bodies are not what’s being talked about when the Scripture uses “flesh” this way. In fact, on the day that God gave Adam and Eve physical bodies made of bones and blood and tissues and sinews... “flesh”....He pronounced the work of that day to be “very good.” Some ancient false teachers of the first century plagued the true church severely with their false doctrine, called “Gnosticism.” One of the tenets of Gnosticism is to believe that physical matter is evil, while all things “spiritual” or immaterial are good. To this way of thinking, then, the only way a human could be good was to be liberated from his physical body. Okay, that is not Christianity. Evil does not live in your physical tissues. It lives in your thoughts, your desires, your motivations, your words and deeds, etc.]

We’ve said all of this in order to get to the point of asking a few questions. You don’t need to tell anyone your answers...but God knows.

1) Have you ever figured that you would go to heaven because, “I’m basically a good person.” ?

- If so, you need to ask yourself who is right in their judgment of you. Is it you, or is it God? God has already called you “flesh.”

2) Have you ever figured that you would go to heaven because, “I’m a better person than most other people, even religious people.” ?

- You may in fact be better than most people, even the religious ones. Thing is, both you and they are “flesh.” Both you and they have hearts that are “desperately wicked.” To say you’re a better person than them is like saying you’ve got the best seat on the crowded bus...and the whole bus is headed off the cliff.

3) Have you ever figured that you would go to heaven because, “God knows I’m doing my best.” ?

-> Is “doing your best” anything similar to “trying with all your heart?” And would that be your “deceitful” heart, that is “only evil continually?”

4) Have you ever figured that you would go to heaven if you could do more good deeds than evil deeds?

- > If, as a person of “flesh,” your heart is continually evil, let me ask you, when in that continuous evil do you think you might manage to do enough good to tip the scales?

I think the apostle Paul must have asked himself these same questions, or some similar, and very honestly realized that his answers didn’t hold any water. He realized that he had no reason to put any “confidence in the flesh” for his going to heaven. (Philippians 3:2-7) He realized that as a man of “flesh” he simply couldn’t do enough good things to make himself right with God (Galatians 2:16).

Finally, he realized that what he couldn’t do, as a fleshly man, God did for Him, by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. Jesus lived as a human being the perfect, good, and holy life that none of us can, due to the weakness of our “flesh.” (Romans 8:3)

Friend, this is the truth. If your life up until the point was the service that you were performing for God as an employee, the only thing you’d deserve to be paid is destruction. When you looked at your pay stub, in the box where it says, “Net pay due this period,” instead of a dollar amount, it would simply say, “Death.” As flesh, that’s all you can earn.

But right now, even as you read these words, God is making you an offer. Trade in what you have earned, in exchange for what Jesus alone has earned, eternal life with God in heaven. Christ died to pay for your sins, and rose from the dead to offer you everlasting life in Him.

God has “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Right now, you can make the first step toward real freedom, freedom from the continuously evil desires of your heart and mind. Your sins, the works of your flesh, can be cleansed through the blood of Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God can come to dwell within you, so that from now on, you will have a new power with which to overcome your sinful nature.

Just stop right now. Right where you are, just bow your head and let God know that’s what you want. There are no “right words” that you need to say. However you express it will work, as long as you do so believing that what you’ve seen here is right and that God can and will make a change in you through Christ. Just let God know.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Place for Truth

In an age where uncertainty is disguised as "epistemological humility" and any claim to certainty and objective truth is considered absurd and arrogant, can today's Christian's make any claim to know the truth?

Many people, callling themselves Christian would say no but I answer with an emphatic YES! and this is why.

Knowing the Truth for Certain is a result of Salvation

"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32

This verse follows the logical form of the if, then statement.
If you abide in my word....If you study it, live by it, love it, obey it, conform to it, submit to it...continually.
  • You are truly my disciples...True believers are discerned from false believers in their relationship to the word of Christ, indeed, the word of God.
  • You will know the truth...surprisingly, those who have an ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ, Jesus, the Son of God who is truth incarnate (John 14:6), who cannot lie, says they will know the truth. This very fact flies in the face of post modernism. Certainty of truth is a result of salvation by the Spirit of God through the Word of God.
  • The truth will set you free...Free from all lies, free from sinful living, free from worldly philosophies and false ideologies.
Knowing the Truth is a means of Sanctification

Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth. John 17:17

Truth is the means by which we are sanctified. If truth is ambiguous, uncertain, and unclear, then sanctification seems impossible. Yet Jesus prays for the sanctification for those that the Father had given him, and goes on to say, "your word is truth." God's Word does not just contain truth, but it IS truth. Everything against it is against truth. The Scriptures are clear, the Scriptures are truth, the Scriptures are the means by which we are sanctified.

Rejection of Truth is a strong indicator of Unbelief

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

Notice the last portion of this text. These people mentioned, those who are perishing will not be saved why? Because the refused to love the truth. Rejection of the truth prevented them from being saved. Notice the first part. The lawless one performs false signs..signs that are not authentic or true. A rejection of truth leads to being deceived by that which is opposed to the truth. If you despise truth, if you do not "know the truth" then the warning light should be flashing, for that is an indicator that you have not been born again of the Spirit of truth (John 13:17, John 16:13). If you have been born again of the Spirit, and are abiding in the Word of God, then the Spirit of truth will guide you in the truth as Jesus has infallibly promised. Can we know the truth for certain? Yes we can, because the Spirit of truth WILL guide us into all the truth.

Those who try to blend postmodern ideas of uncertainty and ambiguity with Christianity are attempting to blend to things that are antithetical. Uncertainty is antithetical to the certainty of the Scriptures. Subjectivity is antithetical to the objectivity of the Word of God. Rejecting certainty is not "epistemological humility," it is rebellion against the truth, rebellion against the Scriptures, and ultimately rebellion against the one TRUE God.

As John MacArthur states in The Truth War,

Speaking Plainly: If you are one of those who questions whether truth is really important, please don't call your belief system Christianity," because that is not what it is."

The Truth War

Yesterday I began reading John MacArthur's new book entitled The Truth War. If you don't have a copy, buy one today and start reading it!

What I've read so far reads as if -prior to writing the book- MacArthur performed a Vulcan Mind-Meld to get inside the heads of these "epistemologically humble" Postmodern/Emergent folks that are cropping up all over.

MacArthur is cutting through the Postmodern epistemological fog with his typical commitment to truth as revealed in the Scriptures. (A much needed breathe of fresh air considering some of the blather I have seen posted in the Mafia "Speak-Easy" as of late!)

So far, this is probably one of the best MacArthur books I've laid my hands on in a while...

Soli Deo Gloria!

(The copyright the Star Trek image above belongs to Paramount Pictures or CBS Paramount Television)

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Sovereignty of God and the Problem of Evil

As Calvinists we believe that God is Sovereign over all things. By saying God is sovereign over evil causes many problems in the minds of many evangelicals, and even non-evangelicals. The philosophical problem of evil is basically this: If God is all-good and hates evil, and God is all-powerful and can prevent evil from happening, why does it seem evil exists? This problem has led to several possible answers.

1. God is not all loving.
2. God is not all powerful.
3. Evil does not actually exist.
4. God does not exist.

Numbers one and two are contrary to God's revelation of Himself in His word. Choice number three says evil is not reality, we just perceive things to be evil. When one gets rid of moral absolutes, one cannot say murder is evil. This too is contrary to the ontology of God that is reflected in His law. And of course saying God does not exist is to deny both reality and the authority of scripture.

So is there a good answer to this difficult question? I pose that there is, and it is indeed biblical.

"I form light and create darkness,I make well-being and create calamity,I am the Lord, who does all these things." -Isaiah 45:7 (ESV)

"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?'"-Daniel 4:35 (ESV)

"Is a trumpet blown in a city,and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city,unless the Lord has done it?" -Amos 3:6 (ESV)

"I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." -Job 42:2 (ESV)

The Scriptures are clear that God is Sovereign over both good and evil. Evil does not consist of actions that thwart or go against God's intended purpose, rather, God uses evil actions to bring about his purposes. At the crucifixion, God's purpose was not thwarted when the people sinfully murdered an innocent man, rather, God's purpose was fulfilled using the evil actions of men. God most definitely could have used any means to bring about his purposes, but if God forms the light and creates darkness, if he makes well being and creates calamity, I will not argue, I will simply submit to what he has revealed in His word.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Boyce on the Socinian View of the Atonement

The following is an excerpt from Chapter XXVIII of J.P. Boyce's Abstract of Systematic Theology pp. 295 and 296. (click here for online version)

The Atonement of Christ.

Several prominent theories have been presented as to the atoning work of Christ, and the method by which God pardons sin.

1. The lowest of these is the Socinian. This proceeds on the principle that God is pure benevolence, that vindictive justice is incompatible with His character, and that upon mere repentance, God can and will forgive the sinner. That work of Christ, therefore, is regarded as one in which he simply reveals or makes known pardon to man. Nothing that He has done secures it, because He had nothing to do to this end. It was already prepared in the benevolence of God's nature, and is simply now made known. [Symington on the Atonement, pp 2 and 3.]

The advocates of this theory explain away all that the Scriptures say in the subject of Christ's death for us, by maintaining that his life and death were mere examples to us of the manner in which we should live and submit to God. In their view, therefore, Christ is merely a great teacher and a bright example.

Some of these have even gone so far as to speak of the sacrifices of the ancient dispensation as things suitable only to a barbarous age, and so far from regarding them as types of Christ's sacrificial work, have looked on them as arrangements permitted only from sympathy for the weakness of the people, whom God ordered to offer them. [Nehemiah Adams, Evenings with the Doctrines, p. 197.]

The objections to this theory are:
  1. It ill accords with the Scripture description of the nature of sin.

  2. It is inconsistent with other attributes of God than mercy.

  3. It is at variance with the letter and spirit of divine revelation.

  4. It is irreconcilable with the exalted nature of the mediatorial reward conferred
    on Christ. [Symington p. 3.]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Best News Ever

I love good news. Here are some news articles from Tominthebox News Network that are my favorite:

Rick Warren joins Together for the Gospel

Hillary Clinton delivers Powerful Sermon

New Amusement Park to open in Lynchburg, Virginia

Hope you find this news...amusing!

Monday, June 18, 2007

A New Look for a New Job

For those of you that have been praying for God's provision in my life as regards to employment, I thank you for your prayers! God has provided! I had an employment interview today at Chick-Fil-A and was hired within minutes and start Wednesday! Praise God! I now have a source of income to pay the bills. I will also begin working for UPS next week. Two verses of Holy Scripture that the Lord has brought to remembrance are both found in Colossians 3.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:23-24)

What these passages show is that everything we do is an opportunity to glorify God and to promote the gospel. Everything that I do, whether preaching the Bible or selling a chicken sandwich or handling packages is an opportunity to bring honor to the name of Christ, and and opportunity to give thanks to God through Christ. No job is an opportunity for laziness, because we are told on the word to work heartily which comes from the Greek word psuche, which means life or spirit. So even working at Chick-Fil-A, I am to be energetic, joyful, spirit-filled, and a hard worker. May we each learn to work as for the Lord and not for men, for our ultimate reward is not a paycheck, but an eternity in the presence of God.

Nevertheless, Chick-Fil-A has a policy that prohibits facial hair. For those who know me, this was an obstacle, since i have had facial hair for over two years now. Well, I have had to shave and have decided to post a before and after picture for my fellow mafia members and readers. No laughing allowed!!

Amazing Grace to Cover Florida!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

SBC Resolutions

It is of no surprise that Tom Ascol's resolution pertaining to integrity in church membership did not get passed at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in San Antonio, for if it did, that would ruin the amazing number of baptisms from the SBC's largest churches. Pastors wouldn't be able to brag on themselves so Tom Ascol's resolution is most definitely not popular among the majority of Southern Baptists. But please...somebody please tell me why the Southern Baptist Convention that is supposedly concerned with the body of Christ and the kingdom of God....somebody please tell me why we would pass a resolution on global warming and not on integrity in church membership. To me, that is utter foolishness. Why do we care more about global warming than the purity and the holiness of the church? Somebody doesn't have their priorities right. Perhaps it would pass if the resolution didn't come from a Calvinist. Or perhaps the resolution would pass if it was presented by a guy who has had hundreds of baptisms each year for the past decade and serves on some SBC committee. This just doesn't make since.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"Subversive Chess Club" Helps to Set Possible Record!

If you have followed this blog for a while, you'll know that one of our chief antagonists is a highly intelligent -yet theologically confused- blogger known as Exist-Dissolve. Whenever a member of the Mafia makes an assertion about anything, we can always count on Exist showing up to deconstruct everything we have written using his massive vocabulary and mind-bending philosophical musings about the ontology of God.

Being less gifted in my command of the English language and philosophy, most of Exist's rhetoric goes right over my head and, in fact, does no harm to my theology at all. Having grown tired of the harassment, at times, a couple of us have enacted somewhat of a "black out" on Exist's comments.

A couple months back, due to our refusal to engage in endless debate over those things we believe to be true, Exist-Dissolve labeled us as a Subversive Chess Club. I recently returned the favor by helping Exist recieve his 3rd Notable Pagan award from his brother Deviant Monk.

A few days ago, as I was browsing the blogosphere, I stopped by to check out the latest drivel written by our old friend Exist. To my delight, he had written an article about the New Defender's Study Bible; a Study Bible created for the express purpose of defending the Genesis account of Creation. When I saw Exist's article, I couldn't help but weigh in on the subject.

Shortly after that, Mafia member Josh Hitchcock came on the scene. So far we have argued about Creationism, evolution, the color of grass, and if perhaps we should begin a new ministry called "Missions to Monkeys."

As I write this article, we are currently up to 35 comments. I suspect this is a record amount of comment box interaction -and possibly web traffic as well- for the Exist-Dissolve blog. In fact, this morning both Josh and I have been having trouble pulling up Exist's blog; I reckon it just can't handle all the traffic...

If so: Congratulations Exist-Dissolve!! Glad we could help!

Picture: Honoré Daumier, The Chess Players (from wikipedia)

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Reformed Resurgence

Several years ago, the conservative resurgence was a wonderful thing to happen within the Southern Baptist Convention. Students like myself profit greatly from the commitment of men who helped in that process. However, it is not enough. I honestly believe that there is another resurgence in our midst, and indeed, it is a wonderful one. I would call this resurgence on our horizon the reformed resurgence. As a student who has just graduated college and is now at one of the SBC's finest seminaries, reformed theology is growing heavily among seminary and college students. While many people would evaluate the reformed resurgence differently, I would like to examine why the doctrines of grace are so appealing to young minds like myself.

The Peril of Pragmatism
Much of what is present in evangelicalism is called pragmatism. We have the great Charles Finney to thank for pragmatism. Pragmatism is simply an extreme emphasis on methodology. In pragmatism, people use all types of methods to manipulate people to walk an isle, raise a hand, or say a prayer. Thus, pragmatism results in many false converts who were just manipulated by methods to make a decision, but it wasn't a decision of true biblical repentance and faith in the work of Christ. Young minds are seeing the results of pragmatism. Young people are seeing professing Christians who act no different than lost pagans. When asked of a conversion experience these individuals who are victims of pragmatism will say, "Yeah I walked the isle when I was in fifth grade. I have been saved ever since." Young minds are reading in the word of God nothing about walking an isle, but a great deal about repentance and faith. Pragmatism is simply a result of what is next, free will theology, or Arminianism. Young minds are seeing the ridiculous conclusions of such a philosophy and that this mentality is purely unbiblical. Pragmatism is one thing that is causing young minds to be immersed in reformed theology.
The Folly of Free Will theology
For many years the doctrine of free will has been believed and unchallenged among many Southern Baptist churches. I grew up affirming free will and I thought anyone who held to otherwise believed humanity was reduced to mere robots or puppets. However, there are numerous problems with free will theology. The God of free will theology may know what is going to happen, but he has no control over how events occur. He is not assured that things will work according to his plan, because man's free will may thwart his purposes. Open Theists have seen this, and have concluded incorrectly that God does not have foreknowledge. Other young minds are seeing the errors of free will theology and examining the scriptures and are finding this doctrine foreign to scripture.
The Error of Ecuminicalism
Another mindset of evangelicalism that is contributing to the reformed resurgence is the error of ecuminicalism. This movement wants to do away with an emphasis on doctrine for the sake of unity. Young students are seeing that this lack of emphasis on doctrine does not promote true, biblical unity, but rather a unity that is false. This is causing young minds to search the scriptures to discover sound biblical doctrine. Thus, more and more students are embracing the tenants of reformed theology.
The Error of Experientialism
Among Christianity today is the mentality that experience is more important than sound doctrine. Orthopraxy is given a higher place than orthodoxy. However, the failure of this mentality is that right living flows from right doctrine. Sound, biblical doctrine promotes a passionate experience of God. We learn about who God is from the Bible. Our experience of God is not some mystical experience, but we experience God as we learn of him in the his written revelation to us. Students are seeing the errors of the experiential Christianity and are seeking to understand biblical theology.
The Problem of Postmodernism
One of the movements that is plaguing the church today probably more than any other is postmodernism. People who embrace this philosophical concept do not believe in absolute truth, rather they adopt the idea of relativism, that truth is relative to each person, each culture, etc. While the Scriptures make absolute statements, postmodernists want to reject any form of absolute statements. However, to reject truth is to reject Christ, because Christ himself said His is the truth in John 14:6. While many are embracing this mentality, some are seeing its error, realizing that two opposing views cannot both be equally true or authoritative. I believe many are seeing these problems are searching the scriptures and are reforming in their doctrine.

Many things are contributing to the reformed resurgence. There are many problems within the church that young minds are seeing and are seeing the need for reformation. However, the main reason for the reformed resurgence is simply the Scriptures. The Scriptures are clear and speak for themselves. Students are engaging the scriptures and are confronting doctrines they have never been taught. Men are being raised up by God to teach the truths to others. Some people do not like the reformed doctrines, while others are seeing how these precious truths affect every area of their lives in a God-honoring way. I pray that we continue to see reformation in our Southern Baptist Churches and throughout the world!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Richard Fuller on Anti-Predestinarianism

Today, many Southern Baptists have been lead to believe that the increased interest in Calvinism is an attempt to bring in doctrines that are either unbiblical or antithetical to being a Baptist. This effort has been lead in part by an elite cadre of preachers and historical revisionists bent on spreading their message that embracing Reformed theology will stifle evangelism and missions.

While reading Dr. Tom Nettles' book, By His Grace and For His Glory, I found the following quote by Richard Fuller, the 3rd President of the Southern Baptist Convention:

"If anything be certain, then it is that the anti-predestinarian system is wholly untenable. It is good for nothing, since it solves no difficulty and stultifies our reason, it is practical atheism and it contradicts express assertions of the Bible."

This is just one of many examples that Nettles cites that show the founders of our movement were indeed Calvinists who opposed Arminian thinking. To anyone willing to undertake a study of SBC history, it will become undeniably evident that it's not Calvinists who are bringing in "new" doctrines, rather, we are working to bring the Convention back to it's historical and Biblical foundation.

Semper Reformanda!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Philosophical Presuppositionalism

A frequent visitor and commenter on this blog, exist-dissolve, holds a firm belief that every student of the Bible, and I am assuming especially reformed theologians, reads into the Scriptures their own philosophical presuppositions into the text so that they can make the scriptures speak how they want them to speak. While I readily admit that this is a reality among many, is philosophical presuppositionalism a universal reality when approaching the scriptures? I heartily say that is false. He attacks Calvinists for reading in their presuppositions into the scriptures. However, if I were to read my presuppositions into the scriptures, I would still be a convinced Calvinist-hating Arminian. I was an ardent defender of free-will theology only a few years ago. At my college, the Calvinism and Arminianism debate was a heated one, and still is. Many Calvinist I know would promote their five points and only gave me philosophical ramblings of why Calvinism is true. I was not convinced. In fact, I believed them to be outright heretics. I approached the scriptures with a Calvinist-hating, free-will defending, ardent Arminian presupposition. What happened? I became a five point Calvinist. Prior to my serious, daily reading of the scriptures (which I never really did before) I had never read anything by a Calvinist. I had never even heard of any of the ancient reformers except Martin Luther, and I hadn't heard of R.C. Sproul or James White either. I simply approached the scriptures with my Arminian presuppositions and the scriptures convinced me that my presuppositions were incorrect.

The authors here at the reformed mafia are not philosophical presuppositionalists. We are men who are committed to the authority, the inspiration, the inerrancy, the infallibility, and the power of Scripture. The Scriptures themselves are authoritative over one's own philosophical presuppositions. This is why convinced God-hating atheists become passionate soul-winners of the gospel simply by the reading of the Divine Word of Scripture. It is within the pages of Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings about new birth in a soul and kills ones presuppositions. The Scriptures speak for themselves. The Scriptures are powerful over philosophical presuppositions.

We also at the reformed mafia do not play the proof-text game. We believe in exegetically examining the scriptures verse-by-verse as the Holy Spirit has inspired them to be written. There is a reason the Scriptures were written in its order, and the authors at the reformed mafia are committed to studying the Scriptures in that order and understanding the Word of God as the Spirit inspired it to be written.

We do not read in our philosophy into the text. If we did, at least for me, I would still be a convinced Calvinist-hating Arminian. There would still be convinced God-hating Atheists, who because of the scriptures, have been miraculously and powerfully converted. However, the scriptures are authoritative and have the power to override our philosophies and bring salvation to lost souls and bring understanding of the truth, through the working of the spirit to the minds of God's people!

Sola Scriptura!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

John Shelby Spong on the Apostle Paul

I wonder why this fellow even fools around with Christianity or the Scriptures.

I'm fairly certain that I had a higher view of Scripture when I was an Atheist!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Easy, there, Johnny

That rumbling-and-gurgling sound you hear is John Knox rolling over in his grave to vomit.

I got my copy of the book catalog from Westminster/John Knox Press today. Here are the books on the front cover:

Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief by Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury.) [ John Knox critiqued Anglicanism as being Popery without the Pope. His assessment is more true every day as the Church of England comes closer and closer to outright reconciliation with Rome. I wonder what Knox would think of a house which bears his name publishing a theological work done by a man who has done his best to smooth-over the controversy over gay clerics in the Anglican church?]

Thomas: the Other Gospel by Nocholas Perrin. [ From reading the advertising about this book, it comes down, eventually, on the side of giving this gnostic "gospel" a second-century date. But if your contention is that it falls rightly far outside the Canon of Scripture, then why call it "The Other Gospel" as if it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with the familiar, scriptural Four? Could it boost interest, and therefore sales? Hmmm?]

Caring for Mother: A Daughter's Long Goodbye by Virginia Stem Owens. [ Now, obviously, there's nothing wrong with a tear-jerker book about losing a loved one to a drawn-out decline in disease. But this is Westminster/John Knox Press, not the Oprah magazine, for cryin' in the night! Anyone remember Westminster and the theological standards produced by that assembly? Anyone remember Knox, who proved himself adept at wielding two sorts of swords, the Word of God and the Scottish broadsword?]

The Gospel According to the Simpsons by Mark I. Pinsky. [No, I'm not making this up. It's a real book. I'd pay good money to watch John Knox give Mr. Pinsky an old-fashioned Highlander's education in how not to treat sacred things as if they were frivolous and common.]

I Want to Live These Days With You by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. [Okay, this is the only book on the front cover I can see John Knox actually looking at without retching. It's a daily devotional using snippets of Bonhoeffer's writings. The Reformer who publicly called for the regicide of Catholic Queen Mary would probably be able to feel some affinity with a preacher who refused to compromise his faith in the face of tyrants, and eventually died for his part in a plot to kill Hitler. I can almost hear the brogue in his "Good on ya, man!"]

It doesn't get better on the back cover, either. You have the waste of a tree called The Gospel According to Hollywood, and a pop-psycho babble screed called Losers, Loners, and Rebels: the Spiritual Struggles of Boys (apparently this will help where tools like, oh, say...the Bible have historically failed so miserably at raising Christian men.)

But the kicker, the one that's surely making Knox beg for just twenty-four hours to walk the earth with a sharp blade in his hand once again: Frank J. Matera's New Testament Theology. Hold onto your hat, there, Pastor Knox, but Matera's a Catholic theologian, and WJKP is publishing this book with the explicit hope to "integrate both Catholic and Protestant approaches."

Okay, okay, I know: John Knox is in the presence of his Lord, the King, Jesus Christ, and the silliness that goes on in his own small name is surely now of little consequence to him. I confess though: it ticks me off. I'm mad on Knox's behalf. I'm still here, after all, and anti-biblical doo doo like this still gets my goat.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Trusting in Sovereignty

Greetings fellow Mafia Members and readers! Tonight's blog is being written from the campus of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY! It is quite different than south, Ga. It is going to be busy the next few days as I get settled in and also fill out job applications and have interviews. I was thinking today, that if I was an Arminian I could not move up here. Not only would Southern Seminary not take me, but practically speaking, I couldn't do it. You see, when it comes to even the hassles of life like finding a job, I will trust in God's Sovereignty. If I was trusting in my own will, this move would not work, and I would be so frantic not having a job. I went from being secure, to not having a clue what I am doing tomorrow. But as a Calvinist, I know that God has a place out there for me to work, even if it is working at K-mart watering flowers like Fred Pifer (Sorry, I had to!) I know that I will be employed at the right place at exactly the right time, with the right people, because God is sovereign, and he will work out his plan for his good pleasure and to his glory. As believers, we must trust in the sovereignty of God in every area of our lives, not just in our salvation. He was sovereign when we were saved, and he is sovereign over our lives every single day, even the things that we see as mundane activities are part of God's sovereign will. Because of that, we should see everything we do as an opportunity to give God glory and to give God praise! Be Blessed!