"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Owen on Grace

From, Communion With God (Puritan Paperbacks: Treasures of John Owen for Today's Readers)

"Grace is a word which has various meanings. But chiefly it means three things:
(1) Grace can mean grace of personal presensce and beauty. So we say, 'He or she is graceful and beutiful person'. The Song of Solomon deals mainly with the grace and beauty of Christ's person. See Psalm 45:2
(2) Grace can mean grace of free favour and acceptance. 'By grace you are saved'. That is, we are saved by the free favour and merciful acceptance of God in Christ. So the expression 'If I found grace in your sight' is often used. The person using this expression hopes that he will be freely and favourable accepted. So God 'gives grace', that is, favour, to the humble (James 4:6; Gen. 39:21; 41:37; Acts 7:10 I Sam. 2:26; II Kings 25:27).
(3) Grace can mean the fruit of the Spirit sanctifying and renewing our natures, enabling us to do those good things which God has purposed and planing for us to do, and holding us back from evil. 'My grace is sufficient for you,' says the Lord Christ. That is, the help which God gave was sufficient for Paul (II Cor. 12:9, 8:6,7; Col. 3:16; Heb. 12:28).
The last two meanings of the word grace, as relating to Christ, I call 'purchased grace', being purchased by him for us. And our communion with Jesus in this purchased grace is called 'a fellowship in his sufferings, and the power of his resurrection' (Phil. 3:10).

What we sing

Just some thoughts on hymns with a nice article to go along with it. I was thinking about how most evangelicals do not have a liturgy that goes back hundreds of years as a tie that binds them to our sacred past. Very few traditions, no liturgy. They have had two great things going for them, preaching and hymns. Both are not what they once were. Many of the old hymns are so rich and so well crafted. They have been sung in Protestant churches for hundreds of years in some cases and now they are being cast aside without a second thought. Keep hymns alive! Also check out this cool slide show about hymns from Christianity Today.

Solus Christus

In a Bible study class, I remember being given an assignment where 10 or so Bible verses were given and we were instructed to elaborate on what they said about the importance of the Bible. It was obvious the verses were found by concordance by locating any verses containing the phrase "word of God." As I looked for the context, it also became obvious that many of these verses explicitly referred to Christ, not the Bible. When I emailed the T.A. who gave the assignment, they instructed me to do the assignment as if they referred to the Bible, even if I knew they did not!

A hot topic lately on Christian blogs has been the tension between being bibliocentric (Centered on the Bible) and Christocentric (Centered on Christ). While slamming the wheel to the other side might be an over-reaction, I can sympathize that we sometimes may be too focused on the book, rather than what the book is about:
A British Pastor on "Why I am not a Bible Teacher" (& Part 2)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jerry Falwell: Interesting Legacy

It is surprising how many interesting stories have come to light about Falwell after his death. My favorite was by students at Liberty who talked about seeing him at a restaurant. They didn't even think he knew them, but at the end of the meal, after Falwell and his friends had left, they were informed Falwell had paid for their meal. So when people as diverse as Rick Warren and Larry Flint have had good things to say, at least personally he must have been a good guy.

The reaction from the current evangelical movement was well observed as having lost a grandfather that they may not have agreed with all the time, but were kinda fond of.
R.I.P. Falwell

Thursday, May 17, 2007

History of War

Ok I do not have this totally developed but I liked this commentary by Fred Thompson on an important thing of the past to study… war. He asserts that warfare is no longer taught at our Universities. I can say while I am sure he is correct I did have a run in with this at Illinois State University. I was a Social Science Major which is basically the same as a History major. The hardest class I ever took at ISU was “U.S. Military History”. This is to ISU’s credit and the woman teaching it is a first rate scholar.
If Fred is right I do think what he asserts as part of the reason has to be true. He states “The post-Vietnam antiwar movement tends to see all wars as mutual mistakes — with both sides in a conflict equally wrong. Some of these folks think war can be avoided by refusing to have anything to do with it.” To true and I think this has infected a lot of the Western Church which is so heavily influenced by our Anti-war at all costs culture. Meanwhile true evil may go unchecked to the point of no return. Perhaps we could use a good study not only of the History of warfare but the view of warfare (for better or worse) of the Church throughout history. Some stones would not be plesent to turn over but I do think we will find that Christians in the past were not as afraid to die as we (me included) are.

My view of what we are missing as we talk and talk about identifying with our enemies is summed up much better by Victor Davis Hanson when he writes, “The hundred years of talking about slavery was not as important as two days at Gettysburg. The success or failure of Normandy affected Hitler more in an hour than had years of pleading with him in the 1930s.”

The down trodden and oppressed are best helped when we are willing to fight for them.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Beckwith fully resigns,

Beckwith officially resigned as a member of ETS as well as the presidency today. Seems James White originally "broke" the story while Beckwith was trying to keep ETS off the radar screen by handling it quietly. White has tried to lead a few ETS-ers in going after Beckwith hard. I think Beckwith is wrong, but James White is not the guy I want talking about this subject. Even when he is on the right side, he doesn't know how to argue rhetorically and logically. I found myself disagreeing with a few foundational points in Geisler's Chosen But Free. Then James White came out with The Potter's Freedom that so poorly and angerly argued against Geisler's book that Geisler used the opportunity to instruct on poor logical agruments (Non Sequitur, Ad Hominem, etc) . Even though White was on the right side on some of the points, I still cringe when I see his name in a debate.

5/10 Update: Interview with Christianity Today

ETS President converts to Catholicism

The former President of the Evangelical Theological Society Francis J. Beckwith converted to Catholicism. ETS has had problems in the past when they would not bar Open Theists like Clark Pinnock, prompting Norman Geisler to resign. Pinnock in, Beckwith out. Just interesting to ponder.

Clarification: meaning, if they kick out the Catholic, then why do they keep the Open Theist?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Orthodox Church

I attended an Antiochian Orthodox Church this week. While my Protestant principles find a few problems with the Orthodox Church, it is always good to experience the other traditions for a sense of what others may emphasis that we do not.

The liturgy had one main focus: Christ. Christ incarnate, Christ our Savior, Christ the Resurrected. It is hard not to meditate on the person of Christ in the service. While we Protestants may look at Christ through the lens of faith or grace, it is helpful to also take a minute to look at the Christ as the one who incarnates Truth (who became what he wished to save) and Resurrects (completes, does not destroy).

The Eastern Orthodox talk about Icons. Icons signify something else. They are very similar to sacraments in that they remind us of some truth that is greater. Did we Protestants over-react to Icons in the past?

What would the culture look like if we did not run from culture to our safe walled garden, but incarnated truth in that culture? What would it look like if we looked to redeem all of creation? What would it look like if we saw life as a sacrament, if we could find more icons or types of Christ in art, culture and nature?

Sure, having Icons may tempt us to worship them instead of Christ. Anyway, we Protestants have enough to worship instead of Christ already: materialism, the pastor, the sermon, the Bible…