Thursday, February 28, 2008

Trouble with Frank Page, part four

Dr. Frank Page has just spent a whopping seven pages analyzing both Calvinism and Arminianism. Finally, after all that grueling labor, we can get to the meat of the matter, and that is, his solution to the problem. And, it seems as if we’ve got here just in time, too! Note the not-arrogant-at-all manner in which Dr. Page introduces it:

“Rather than accepting a belief system which is based upon a reformer’s beliefs or teachings, I propose that we adopt God’s teaching on salvation. It is time for the clear communication of a biblically based understanding of how God has reached out to sinful humanity and how sinful humanity can come into God’s kingdom. In other words, it is time for a clear understanding of the doctrine of grace!” [p.28]

Well, Glory be.

Y’know, honestly this is tough stuff to read. Joseph Smith has got nothing on Frank Page. If you believe their respective pronouncements, they’re both latter day rescuers of the pure truth of God, which they both have found hopelessly corrupted by Christendom.

But you’ve all suffered through movies where the 30-second advertisement was about five times better than the actual show. That’s kind of what we get here with the unveiling of Page’s GRACE acrostic, obviously meant to replace the TULIP, seeing as how that older one is all graceless and stuff.

Be that as it may, right off the bat, we run into the number one, overwhelming deficiency of this book. That is this: Not a single passage or verse of Scripture is actually exegeted.

Oh, now, to be sure, many verses are quoted and many more are referenced, but not a single one is actually examined for the sake of really finding out what it might mean. Throughout the book, rather than careful interpretation and application of the historical-grammatical method, what we get is verses quoted to us with the heavy-handed presumption that they obviously teach exactly what Page wants them to teach.

If that doesn’t have you shaking your head, remember again that Page bills this book as “A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Calvinism.” It’s okay if you laugh out loud.

Consider this example, which I think is dumbfounding, of a place where even a little bit of exegesis would have been nice.

“Perhaps the greatest, single place in which this grace [the previously uncommunicated doctrine he has above promised to communicate] is described is Titus 2:11-14.” [p.28]

And what does Dr. Page actually do with this passage? Interpret it carefully? No.

Failing that, does he at least quote the whole passage? Nope. He quotes about the first dozen words and then makes an unproven assertion about what the rest of the passage goes on to teach. I’m not kidding. I wouldn’t make this stuff up.

This is the way the whole book is. Mention a text. Maybe quote it, though most often don’t. Finally, assert what the text teaches without bothering to try and prove it.

Anyway, on to the acrostic.

G = Grace Given through Christ.

After straining to grasp what he was getting at in this section through multiple re-readings, I am now somewhat confident that what this is supposed to mean is that when you “accept” the grace that is in Jesus, then you will be elected. He could’ve saved some time by simply quoting Ergun Caner’s mantra, “Elected because I selected.”

After referencing, but not quoting or exegeting [again] Ephesians 1-2, Dr. Page further asserts his dogma: “In essence, Paul states in these two chapters that God elected a way of salvation as well as a people to propagate that way.”

This is Dr. Page’s doctrine of predestination. God predestined a plan of salvation, but not the individuals who would avail themselves of it. However, once they do cause themselves to be elected, then they become part of the Church, which God has predestined as a whole to preach the gospel. “In other words, He did indeed predestine the how of redemption, not the who!” [p.45, emphasis his.]

There will me much more to say about Dr. Page’s definition of terms like predestination, later.

R = Grace May be Rejected through Rebellion

Obviously, the R does not correspond to the U in TULIP. The G maybe does, as explained above. This point counters TULIP’s Irresistible Grace.

Page starts off this section by rightly observing, “The issue of the freedom of the will is of paramount importance.” [p.30] This writer certainly agrees that the power of the fallen will is key to the entire discussion.

If Dr. Page, or anyone else, could demonstrate Libertarian Free Will from the Bible, this whole debate would’ve been over from the Remonstrance. Sadly, consistent with his modus operandi thus far, Page does not seek to carefully support his position from Scripture. Rather, once again, he simply issues a decree and seems to call it a day. “Human beings do have the ability to choose.” [p.30]

In this section, it is painfully obvious that Dr. Page does not understand the Calvinistic distinction between the inward/effectual call of saving grace and the outward/resistible message of salvation in the presentation of the gospel. If anyone in the Bible ever refused the gospel offer, that is seen as proof against Irresistible Grace.

This section ends with maybe the most egregious example of Dr. Page’s making a claim to biblicism and then utterly failing to give any evidence of it. Back on the topic of what fallen man is capable of, he says, “However, I call again for a scriptural understanding.” [p.31]

Here, here, Dr. Page! The crowd is all behind you on that one. Now, let us have it, please. Show us, we beg you!

But after his clarion call for letting Scripture guide us, rather than turn to Scripture, he simply quotes an Arminian writer who restates Page’s own position on free will, again without any Bible support.

A = Grace Can be Accepted Through Faith

This seems to simply be the positive corollary of the last point. You can either accept or reject God’s grace, is his point. Ho hum. Hardly anything in this section ruffles my feathers, much less contributes to the destruction of Calvinism.

C = Christ Died for All

Less than a single page is here devoted to making the case for Unlimited Atonement. Again, no exegesis of any passage.

E = Grace Insures Everlasting Life

About a page and a half stating the modern baptistic doctrine of Once Saved Always Saved, which is really neither Arminian apostacy nor Calvinistic perseverance. No exegesis of anything. Merely assertions.

The bottom line is that Dr. Page’s heralded, supposedly reformational, Scriptural soteriology is merely the five articles of the Remonstrance, with the last one replaced by Eternal Security, which both sides at the Synod of Dort would have found strange.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Government Check Challenge!

evol-exposed.jpgI've got a challenge for all my Christian brothers and sisters (residing in the U.S.A.)!

Very soon the Federal Government is going to be sending you a check as a part of it's so-called "economic stimulus package."

Are you trying to figure out what to do with it?

How about taking some of the money from that check (or your tax refund) and buy at least one case (36 copies) of these books and start giving them to every teenager you know? -especially those in public schools!

Think of what might happen if several of us all over the nation do this!

Please pray about commiting to this challenge and spreading the word to other Christian bloggers. It's time some government money is used to support the truth about evolution!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Trouble with Frank Page, part three

The third chapter of TWTT is titled “A Description of Positions” and starts to form the meat of the book, such as it is.

Dr. Page gives very general summaries of the five points of Calvinism, followed by the five points of Arminianism, followed at last by his own “Five Points of Scriptural Soteriology.”

He’s got his own five points arranged so that they’ll fit under the acrostic GRACE. Very clever…not. (It reminds me of certain political advocacy groups in the US who seem to come up with the acrostic they’d like to call themselves, and then are locked into forcing words into their official title for the sake of fitting the acrostic, and not because that’s what they really are. Like COMPASSION: Coalition Of Middle-class Persons Avowing to Save Sick Infants in Our Nation.)

As we’ll see a little later, his GRACE acrostic doesn’t follow the pattern of addressing the same points as the other five-point systems, and even repeats one point for the sake of the label.

If I was going to be all nit-picky, there are things I’d change in his definitions of the TULIP, but not a great lot. They’re basically okay, or would be with minor tweaking.

My complaint at this point is not so much what he writes, as it is how little he writes. In a book whose subtitle is "A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Calvinism," Dr. Page spends a whole five pages in fairly large-font print defining the TULIP. A single page per point is a "closer examination?" I hardly think so. This is your doctor ruffling your hair and slapping your fanny and pronouncing you fit as a fiddle.

But under the heading for Limited Atonement, there is a line that deserves some consideration, especially in light of the discussion that has taken place in the comments section of the second of these reviews.

He lists some Scripture references, which he says Calvinists use to defend Limited Atonement, and then laments that Calvinists spend “much time…explaining away the passages which portray a universal application for the atonement.” [p.24]

Okay, I’m thinking that the word “application” there is problematic, at best. Does Dr. Page believe that there are Scriptures that teach that Christ’s atonement is universally applied? This is different than saying the atonement is universally “available,” or even universally "offered" or universally “intended.”

If all sin, universally, has had the atonement of Christ applied to it, then all sin has been perfectly atoned. I do not believe that Dr. Page intends to teach this, but rather, that this is merely another instance in which the holder of the Ph.D. could’ve been a bit more careful in his scholarship. I don’t want to make too much of this instance.

So, we’ll skip down to Dr. Page’s summary of the five points of Arminianism.

Under the heading of “Free Will” he says that this is what the Arminians taught:

“Human beings could certainly choose good or evil.” [p.26]

This is eye-opening, because Page has previously defined the Pelagian heresy as the belief that “every person could choose to sin or choose to be righteous.” [p.14] If I was an Arminian, I think I’d be offended: Dr. Page has basically equated classic Arminianism with Pelagianism.

He goes on to prove still more that his understanding of Arminianism is nearly as thorough as his understanding of Calvinism (tongue planted firmly in cheek there.)

“Even though we are all influenced by sin, the Arminians believed that there was still enough good left in mankind for him/her to accept Christ for salvation.” [p.26]

I’m a Calvinist, not an Arminian, but even I know that this is not what the Arminians believed. The whole reason they came up with the doctrine of Prevenient Grace was to find a way to give fallen man the ability to choose to be saved. They didn’t believe fallen man’s natural condition allowed for that possibility apart from a specific work of grace, which would have the effect of rescuing him from his total inability to receive the gospel.

If Arminianism is what Dr. Page describes, then Arminianism = Pelagianism.

Now, I don’t think his description of Arminianism is correct, but the disturbing thing about it is this:

Dr. Page implies throughout this book that the Arminians have their soteriology basically right. That is, he agrees with all but the last point of what he has described as Arminianism, as we will see.

I don’t know that I’ve been clear enough about what disturbs me on this point:

Dr. Page overwhelmingly affirms the teaching of Arminianism, as he has characterized it. And his characterization of Arminianism is Pelagian. (By his own definition.)

Honestly, I don’t desire for a moment to think about the implications for the president of my denomination.

This is already a long post, so we’ll save an examination of his GRACE acrostic for next time.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Trouble with Frank Page, part two

The second chapter of Trouble With the TULIP is titled “A Brief History.” In it, he hopes to show that the Christian position was non-Calvinistic until Augustine made some previously unknown theological innovations, and then Calvin took them and ran with them early in the 16th Century. In this chapter, Dr. Page sadly begins to evince some sloppiness that is merely surprising when it first appears, but then progresses throughout the book, from surprising to flabbergasting, to frustrating, to maddening, to inspiring uncontrolled facial twitches.

The first surprising thing, for a professional of his stature, is a penchant for simply asserting things which the argument at hand seems to demand that he prove. He says it, so it must be correct.

One such instance of that is in the very first sentence of this chapter:

“The New Testament church taught that Jesus Christ died for all people.” [p.11]

Oh, well then. I guess we’re done. Here I was thinking 71 pages was laughable for disproving Calvinism, and Page has undone the whole system on page 11. I guess the following 60 must be all “filler.”

Here’s another instance of the same penchant, from page 12:

“There was no question in the hearts of the New Testament church as to the God-given ability of all persons to respond to God’s invitation.”

Again, no Scripture is brought to bear, but I guess we’re to believe that this declaration is all we need to undo the doctrine of Total Depravity. Hey, if the early church had “no question” about this, I guess we shouldn’t either.

So, with two completely unsupported assertions, Page has proven that no one in the early church believed in either Total Depravity or Limited Atonement. Man! Look how fast he’s dispatching the petals of the TULIP! Two sentences, two doctrines undone.

And in the very next paragraph, he drops the names of some early church Fathers, “Barnabas, Clement and Ignatius, etc.” [p.12], and without even a single citation or quote, confidently asserts they believed that salvation “was a God-given gift which could be received or rejected.”

Ding, ding, ding. Three shots, three shooting gallery ducks dropped! Wave bye-bye to the notion of Irresistable Grace (even though it will become apparent that Page doesn’t understand it.) Who can stand before such powerful argumentation?

Then he lists four early Church Councils, as a way of showing that the church was unified against heresies. He lists Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. I note that one council he didn’t mention was the Council of Orange, which occurred a little after Chalcedon, and which, by the way, happens to affirm a lot ideas that are now associated with Calvinistic thought.

Another surprising misstep by the holder of the Ph.D. is a particularly glaring argumentation error (not the last, either, as the progression of the book will prove.)

Page has already dogmatically asserted that “There was no question in the hearts of the New Testament church as to the God-given ability of all persons to respond to God’s invitation.” [p.12] On the surface, which is all we have, because he doesn’t bother to explain what he means by this, this declaration goes beyond classic Arminianism (which affirms Total Depravity in regards to fallen man’s native state.) It seems to assert that everyone has the native ability to obey the Gospel, and thereby be declared “righteous” in God’s act of justification. God has allowed that every sinner should have the natural ability to decide to be righteous.

Okay, then later, on page 14, in mentioning Pelagius, Page seems to endorse the church Council’s finding that Pelagianism was/is heresy. He summarizes Pelagianism as the belief “that every person could choose to sin, or choose to be righteous.”

Hmmm. One wonders which it is for Page. Does every person have the ability to choose to be righteous? Is that the consistent, unquestioned belief of the New Testament church? Or is that appropriately labeled as heresy?

Because he has effectively asserted both. Yes, the church believed this. And yes, the church uniformly condemned this a little later.

A third penchant that can only be scholarly sloppiness is one for asserting things that “Calvinists believe” which you could never find a Calvinist to agree to.

For instance, on page 17, he says that Calvin’s belief in God’s sovereignty in salvation caused him to substitute “this belief for the biblical view of salvation by grace through faith!”

Really, Dr. Page? You think Calvin displaced salvation by grace through faith? You think any Calvinist on the planet believes something other than salvation by grace through faith? This is disheartening stuff to read.

Then Dr. Page trots out the mournful violin to lament the Synod of Dort, and how unfair it was for a bunch of Calvinistic ministers to strongly reject the overtures of the Arminian Remonstrants. The deck was stacked! The jury was all Calvinistic, and the Arminians had no vote! “This well known historical fact is for some reason totally absent from most books extolling the virtues of Calvinism which emanate from the Synod of Dort!” [p.18]

Cry me a river. If I go to Philadelphia to watch a game between the Eagles and my Cowboys, and I not only wear my colors but shout incessantly that all Eagles fans should convert to the true faith and become Dallas fans, it is really dumb of me to then lament the fact that I got my butt handed to me by a bunch of drunks in Jaworski jerseys.

So, you demand to be heard in a court of Calvinists and then complain when they hold to their Calvinism. Oh, the injustice!! How devilish that man-made system must be! What a kangaroo court it was! For shame, for shame.

Lastly, Page feels the need to deal with the fact that the greatest Baptist preacher ever, CH Spurgeon, was a Calvinist, and a tremendously successful evangelist to boot. He does this by pointing out that Spurgeon despised the Hyper-Calvinists. Which is true, but I’m left wondering what effect this is supposed to have on anything. Calvinists routinely label Hyper-Calvinism as grave error at best, and heresy at worst. I think Page wants to make it look like Spurgeon wasn’t really a Calvinist, because he preached the Gospel to large crowds and urged people to repent and trust in Christ.

It’s the old canard that Calvinism is opposed to evangelism and the universal proclamation of the Gospel, and it’s as wrong here as it is everywhere else.

Page 20, and I’m already wondering how low this can go.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Trouble with Frank Page, part one

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an orderly account and explanation concerning the things that have been done among us in the book, Trouble With the TULIP by Dr. Frank Page, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things in a mediocre manner from the beginning, to write an orderly account for you, O Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

I know I’m late to the party, here, on this weighty tome, but for my own discipline and exercise of mind and heart I plan to do a chapter-by-chapter review of Dr. Frank Page’s book, Trouble With the TULIP. If someone else gets something out of this, then that’s a bonus. I don’t want to write book myself, so I’ll jump right in and try to exercise some word-count restraint.


I note a couple of things right off the bat. The first is the size of this book. There are only 71 pages of text (!) and my quick estimation by counting lines per page is that it contains less than 22,000 words. I know that might sound like a lot if you were assigned that amount on a college research project, but for a published book that apparently aims to dismantle the core theology of the entire Protestant Reformation, that is laughably puny. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that’s a howler. I mean, we’ve had non-Calvinists leave comments in our metas that are comparable.

My own published book, which is not meant as a weighty work at all, is four times that size. And, sitting on my shelf right here, I have a copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith (a mere summary of Calvinism, not a defense or a careful exegetical explanation.) It is 99 pages in much smaller typeface. And that’s leaving off the two catechisms that go with it.

On top of that, we are informed in the Introduction to TWTT that Page will also show (somewhere in the process of dismantling Calvinism) why he doesn’t call himself an Arminian. I don’t know how many, or few, words that’ll take, but I’d guffaw about that if I was of that persuasion.

I also note that TWTT is published by Riverstone Group Publishing. This is a house that helps writers self-publish their books.

Now, as an author who has some experience with shopping a book around looking for a publisher, it’s hard for me to fault a writer who self-publishes. Well….no, it’s really not. Again, it makes me smirk a little.

My experience is this: Christian publishers are very reluctant to publish a book by a first-time author, unless the author is a well-known figure within evangelicalism, or pastors a large church, or else somehow has some mechanism already in place by which he might reasonably be expected to sell a large number of books quickly, based on who he is. My point is, Dr. Frank Page, recognized mucky-muck in the world’s largest Protestant denomination, has all of that stuff. He should have no problem getting anything published.

But here’s the other thing: Some publishing houses are radicals in that they still require that your book have some substance to it.

I don’t want to make too much of this minor point, but it is a question that pops into my head right at the get-go. Why did famous Frank Page have to self-publish a teensy weensy little book that packs enough dynamite to undo the Reformation?

Well, turns out, I don’t have to wait very long to start getting an answer to that.

In the second paragraph of the Introduction, Page describes Calvinists as people who “believe in a five point system of theology, developed by the reformer John Calvin and his followers.” [p.5]

As a Calvinist, I would never describe myself that way. I also, for example, would not describe Arminians as people who believe a system developed by Jacobus Arminius, as it was fed to him by certain Jesuits seeking to undo the spread of Protestantism. I would never do that!

Right from the beginning Page seeks to portray Calvinism as devotion to a man, and never hints that maybe Calvinists see “Calvinism” as a nickname for the gospel that the Bible reveals. It can’t be that we think the Bible leads us to certain conclusions.

In fact, that sort of assertion on our part is expressly disallowed on the next page, when he mentions that Calvinists have a “rampant” spirit among them which leads them to assert such outrageous things as Dr. Loraine Boettner did when he said,

“As will be shown, the Bible contains an abundance of materiel for the development of each [point of the TULIP]. Furthermore, these are not isolated and independent doctrines but are so interrelated that they form a simple, harmonious, self-consistent system.” [Quoted on p.7, parenthesis mine.]

Page seems irritated that Calvinists would claim to have the Bible on their side. Instead, he asserts that he will show us how to develop a pure, Scriptural soteriology and not “a system of logic” or “adhering in blind devotion to the teachings of any one scholar.” [p.7]

We also get a taste of what irks Page about the whole deal. He thinks doctrines like Limited Atonement paint a “not so pretty picture” picture of Jesus [p.6]. Of course, this is just the introduction, and he may go on to bolster his case later, but I’ll be waiting to see how it’s so much prettier to envision a Savior who didn’t actually secure salvation for anyone, but rather only made it a theoretical possibility; and why it’s ugly to think maybe He actually saved whole multitudes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Free Books for Me!

Hey, yesterday, I was given a packet of nine free books. I've been told that they come from the Southern Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Apparently, all us SBCNM pastors are getting the same packet.

I'm torn, though. On the one hand, I love free stuff, and free books are really cool.

On the other hand, the titles I have been given cause me to sigh deeply and long for heaven. Because, for one, I'm convinced that heaven will not resemble your average Christian all.

I understand that laymen have donated these books, and/or paid for them, and that is a big part of what depresses me. I mean, ask yourself: If I could put one book in the hand of every SBC pastor in my state, what would that book be?

You would likely choose a book that you thought was really important. Maybe something that you hoped would really help the men of God in the pulpit to do their job in a manner more pleasing to God. You might even take a dive off the deep end and get them a weighty tome filled with good, meaty theology.

Well, here is the list of books I got. Someone somewhere thought that the average SBC pastor would really be blessed by reading each of these. Keep that in mind. Their hearts are in the right place. Their heads...? we go:

Antology: Lessons from the ant for our own financial future by O.S. Hawkins. It's a little, mini-book of 90 pages. It looks to be an extended "object lesson" focused on observing how ants behave.

The Character of Leadership: Nine Qualities that Define Great Leaders by Jeff Iorg. I haven't dived into this yet, but I note on the back cover that the headlining "famous endorser" of this book is none other than that elder statesman of Christianity, Rick Warren. Makes me want to just charge into it.

Eternal Life Vital Signs by Calvin Partain. This one actually looks like it could be profitable. It is focused on the topic of how to discern true from false conversion, and its very first line is a quote from 2 Corinthians 13:5 ("test yourselves...") Which all makes me want to jump and shout. But the above verse is quoted from The Message "bible." So my enthusiasm takes a little hit, but I plan to read it and give it a go.

3:16 by Max Lucado. I read a Max Lucado book once, three times. Oops, no wait. I read three Max Lucado books. Wait, no, that can't be right. Well, they had three different titles, anyway, and so I was at least momentarily tricked into thinking that they were different books. I'm sure this one will be different.

The New Guidebook for Pastors by James W. Bryant and Mac Brunson. Some of the chapter titles look helpful. This seems to be something like a manual for training yourself on the job. Merely the chapter heading of "The Pastor and Finances" makes me pleasantly sleepy. I could be proved wrong, but I'm guessing there won't be a movie made about this one. And I really hope that I am proven wrong about this suspicion: but I fear the book is about how to function as the head of a non-profit religious organization, and is probably pretty light on what it means to be the sort of shepherd God approves.

The Unfinished Soul by Calvin Miller. If my loathing for modern "devotionals" is not already bad enough, here's a blurb from the back cover. The amazing thing is that this is apparently supposed to make me want to read the book: "This collection of writings...will tickle you, tease you, and teach you as you become a companion on a journey--observing the shaping of faithfulness in an unfinshed soul." Yippee!

Are You Committed? Connecting God's People to Meaningful Ministry by Jay McSwain. My examination of this tome is quite cursory, I'll admit. But I see that it is filled with many charts and diagrams and illustrations, as well as what looks like very many evaluation forms, for you to fill out and score. (Sort of like all those quizzes in the women's magazines: "Is Your Man a Romantic Hero? Have Him take our Quiz!") I confess that my initial impression is that this book is a program that you can institute at your church, very similar to the 40 Days of Purpose or the Building a Contagious Church programs. Maybe I'm wrong. I won't write it off yet.

Start Strong, Finish Strong: Prescriptions for a Lifetime of Great Health by Cooper and Cooper, M.D.s. Oh, joy! My very own book that will explain to me why health concerns demand that my taste buds never actually take pleasure in another morsel of food, ever again. And I'm certain that if I follow all their instructions to the letter, God will postpone the day of my death until He and I can come to some mutual agreement on the matter. Yippee again!!

And, last but not realize that's just a colloquialism.....

The Second Edition of Trouble With the Tulip by Frank S. Page, Ph.D. Here, at last, is a book I know I will read carefully, and the bonus is it's a book that I would never have spent my own money on, so I'm praising God's Providence!

The wise man observed that, of the making of books there is no end. I'm thinking he must've been mournfully massaging his temples when he groaned that proverb.

Birth: Natural and From Above

I recently read the book Understanding Four Views On Baptism. In it I encountered a really good point concerning the Lord's teaching on the New Birth by Lutheran theologian Robert Kolb. Though we Reformed Baptists would disagree with Kolb on how he understands Baptism in relation to Regeneration, what Kolb has written below lines up very well with how we understand the monergistic nature of the New Birth.

"Coming under God's rule means forsaking a sinful way of life and being brought under God's fatherly, beneficent Lordship. Christ spoke of this gift as the loss of our identity as sinners and the gift of the new identity imparted in Christ as a 'new birth' or 'birth from above.' (Both translations of the Greek word anothen in John 3:3 are possible, and both are theologically apt.) When Nicodemus asked Jesus how a person can experience the kingdom of God, the Lord has a number of possible ways to describe how people come under God's rule. Given the Roman economy in Palestine at the time, he might have said, "It is like a business contract that is offered, which you must sign." He did not. He might have said, "It is like wooing a lover and seeking her to gain her consent to marry." He did not. Entering the Kingdom of God is not a matter of two coming to an agreement. Coming under God's rule is not a matter of human desire or human willing. Those who receive Christ and believe in him have been given power to become the children of God (John 1:12-13), Therefore, Jesus compared coming to experience God's reign in his people's lives as birth (John 3:1-15).

Although babies cry and wiggle as they come from the womb, there is nothing more passive -more a gift- in life than being born. We neither asked our parents for the gift of life nor were asked by them if they could conceive and bear us. Mothers give birth, and children receive. God gives new birth and this new identity is received by faith. This new identity involves trusting and loving the heavenly Parent who imparts new life. But he has made the first move, and he makes it independent of every condition on the human side of the relationship. The response of trust or faith results from, is not a cause of, God's re-creative act."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Next Great Expositor!

There appears to be a dearth of expositional preachers and with the passing away of Adrian Rogers and D. James Kennedy, who shall carry the great torch of expositional preaching? Who will take hold the reigns to follow in the footsteps of the MacArthurs, Sprouls,Mohler's and the like? Fear not...Rev. Charles shall answer the call with his profound philosophical insights, exegetical prowess, and prolific oratorical abundance to spear head us into the coming decade.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Experiencing Genuine Reformation

Amidst the market-driven mentality, and our churches being run like coorporations, and amidst all the unorthodox doctrines being masqueraded as genuine, authentic, biblical Christianity, it is true that we need a modern reformation. Many of today's Christians go to churches to find entertainment rather than eternal life. Some friends of mine have left my church, which is firm in sound doctrine and biblical exegesis, and have went to a church in town that is not that. In fact, this church, the sixth largest church in Louisville has had Joel Osteen present on numerous occasions, and the church is a fan of Rob Bell. But, they can't tell the difference between our church, and that church. The lack of discernment of today's Christians proves to me that we need a modern reformation. Today's Christians have never read the Bible all the way through. If we are live on every word that comes from the mouth of God, then certainly we must be familiar with every word. Yet, that is not the case with Christians today. The lack of discipline shows me that we need a modern reformation. With the lack of sound doctrine, the lack of serious discernment, and the lack of spiritual discipline, how can we experience genuine reformation?

I believe we can gain our answer from the godly men who walked before us known as the Puritans. For one of my classes, I am reading J.I Packer's book, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life. In this book, Packer's notes that the puritans used the word reform in the way that we use the word revival. Today, when we think of the word reform, it carries the idea of an external, visible change of something. When reforming a particular local church, that might include reforming the church's style of government, reforming various doctrinal positions, and other things. When the puritans used the word 'reform' they did not mean just an external change but, and inward change. They realized that for any authentic reform, or purification (as they sought to purify or reform the church), their must be inward revival. Their must be an inward renewal of zeal and passion for the Word of God, for the glory of God, and for the salvation of lost sinners.

Believers, if we want to see genuine, authentic reformation, we will have to be committed to an inward renewal of our minds and hearts, reviving every fiber of our being. Only then will we experience genuine reformation. We can change the externals, but then we are only like the pharisees. Only when we are being inwardly revived and renewed will we experience genuine reformation in our churches!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Heart Almost Stopped When...

My wife just asked me if James R. White is the husband of Paula White!!!!!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lectures on Monergistic Regeneration

The Reformation Theology blog has posted two free lectures on Monergistic Regeneration by Dr. Art Azurdia III.

I've almost jumped up and ran around the room shouting like Billy Sunday several times during the first lecture!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Photo: Billy Sunday showing out... Can't remember where I found it.