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

Sunday, December 30, 2007


For consideration:
Huckabee's pleas for church support are disturbing me. I do not mind if a politician wishes to share his religious background, but according to multiple news stories, Huckabee has been preaching sermons in churches as part of his campaign. (See here, here, and in my backyard here)

I was reminded of the story of King Uzziah, who went to perform the tasks of the temple. That is until the priests...

...withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the LORD God.” Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house
of the LORD, beside the incense altar. (
2 Chron 26:18-19)

I was looking through my Westminster Confession and found this section illuminating as well:

It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto...[but]...Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments.

When I hear politicians are giving sermons, I begin to think this line has been crossed. It is compromising to the church and a temptation for manipulation by the government. It is this humble blogger's opinion that Huckabee needs to choose: pastor, or President. He is not allowed to be both.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Quote of the Week: The centrality of Christ

A full week of having no assignments has allowed me to turn my studies to my own pet interests. So this week, I began my journey through the 5 volumes of Jaroslav Pelikan's History of Doctrine starting with: "The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, 100-600 a.d."

Within the first few hundred years, one sees the unity of the church on several issues of interpretation, especially as all sorts of heresy develop. One of the greatest points of early orthodoxy was the centrality of Christ in all areas of theology. Here is an example when Pelikan addresses the issue of Scripture:

"'Word of God' was, of course, one of the most important technical terms for Jesus Christ in his relation to the Father; and when 'the gospel' or 'Scripture' was equated with the 'word of God,' the presence of Christ in this means of grace was seen as in some way analogous to his presence in the
...Christ was the preaching of God." (pg 161)
In reaction to liberalism that questioned the accuracy of the Bible, some have placed the Bible as the foundation to the Christian faith. However, we find when looking at the early Church that their foundation was Christ and the Scriptures depended on Him, led to Him and were His words. The primary doctrine of the Early Church was the inerrancy of Christ that made the Scriptures valid, not the inerrancy of Scriptures that made Christ valid.

The close relationship of Scripture and Christ may make distinctions of which one claims primacy seem technical (if both are inerrant, why quible?). But I have come to the conviction that it is important. We read in Luke 2, Simeon declares about Christ:

“Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Then we read Hebrews 4:12 -
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Have we allowed the "Word of God" merely to mean God's commands or instructions in a book? Or does "Word of God" mean a Person who pierces us to our soul and look for this Person in our Scriptures. Muslims believe in the Word of God as revealed writings, but we are Christians and we believe in the Word of God made flesh. This does not lessen our view of Scripture, instead the Scriptures gain more power when we realize that in reading them, we are not ruled by a book, but by the Lord Christ that book reveals and Whose words they are.

On my desk sits the image to the left. It is a picture of Christ holding the Scriptures. The Greek reads: "The Light-Giver." The picture reminds me of my favorite part of the DTS doctrinal statement:

"We believe that all the Scriptures center about the Lord Jesus Christ in His person and work in His first and second coming, and hence that no portion, even of the Old Testament, is properly read, or understood, until it leads to Him."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Of Such is the Kingdom of God

Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)

Our 20+ pastor penned a sublime entry after his daughter went home. I encourage you all to go read it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

As we near Christmas, I thought I would share another of my favorite Christmas songs. The song does a great job balancing two elements that modern hymns/praise music does not: theology and sentiment. The image of the Rose is romantic, but the truth of the promise of Christ and His Deity come through perfectly.

Click play here to hear a version of it and the lyrics are below as well

As men of old have sung;
It came, a flow'ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When halfspent was the night.

2. Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind;
To show God's love aright,
She bore to us a Savior,
When halfspent was the night.

3. O Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel with glorious splendour
The darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God,
From Sin and death now save us,
And share our every load.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Low cost grace! [or why I'm glad I'm Protestant]

Get it while it lasts! The Roman Catholic Church, for a limited time, is offering grace in the form of Indulgences again! It's Easy: You do a work and you get grace! Not scriptural you say? Hmm, how to explain this, how about I put as: Make yourself to differ from others and boast in your merit! Still Not scriptural? How about buying and selling in the temple? Oh, that's worse. How about paying for what you get for free...

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I am loving Peter Brown's biography of Augustine of Hippo. I am sure I am not qualified to explain who the Donatists were. But in short they were a group that stressed the law and following it by your own free will. They disliked Augustine as a bishop due in no small part to his sinful past. He was not considered by them worthy to be a Bishop. I love a couple of his retorts. First on his own condition he said of them and himself:

"O there are many things in me which they could fasten on: it would thrill them to know about them! Much still happens in My thoughts - fighting against my evil promptings, a day-long tension; the Enemy almost continuously wishing to make me fall.."

Wow and he did not need Dale Carnegie to tell him to be quick to agree. In a sense he is almost saying, Yep I am to sinful to be a Bishop.
But Augustine was not interested in a "pure" church. If the church was to expand it could never be "pure" in the way the Donatists wanted it to be. Augustine rather saw God drawing a people to Himself to make heirs of a property. Here is my favorite:

"The clouds roll with thunder, that the House of the Lord shall be built throughout the earth: and these frogs sit in their marsh and croak - We are the only Christians!"

Cool! If you think about the vision which is more exciting? A pure and sinless church, or a kingdom on the move? With all the problems of the church how often do we focus simply on purifying it, breaking off into our little, or big, groups and croak "We are the only Christians"? Augustine believed in a sovereign God who was on the move and would pay the frogs no mind as he went about His work of claiming a people to Himself. Praise God!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hymn of the week: What Child is This?

We all know the song put to the music of Greensleeves "What Child is this?" Perhaps we miss the weighty issue it meditates on: namely that God became a helpless baby, crying and without bladder control totally dependent on a teenage mother. How bizarre a belief we are bound to as Christians that a limitless God took on the confines of time, space and skin. This bloody mess of an infant made the matter it now lives in?

Perhaps we also forget that sweet baby we get warm fuzzies about soon will have his flesh torn by nails as we neglect to sing the second chorus:

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross he bore for me, for you
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

With the happiness of eggnog, lights, trees and presents, we don't like to meditate on metaphysical impossibilites of the incarnation or that the child in our cute manger scene will soon be a bloody mess again. And we should not be sad during Christmas. But it is necessary sometimes to know why Christmas happened, namely that God must come to pay the price only He could pay, but only we were required to pay in a bloody mess.

Verse 1:

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

Chorus 1:

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Verse 2:

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Chorus 2:

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross he bore for me, for you
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Verse 3:

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Chorus 3:

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Which Theologian are you? (post in comments!)

Take this quiz here to find out which Theologian you are most like (according to whomever randomly made up the quiz.) I was most like....Karl Barth. Sadly enough I have yet to read Barth! But his Dogmatics in Outline is on my list of reading over break. Here's the rest of my results:

The daddy of 20th Century theology. You perceive liberal theology to be a disaster and so you insist that the revelation of Christ, not human experience, should be the starting point for all theology.

Karl Barth


John Calvin

Monday, December 03, 2007

T.F. Torrance. R.I.P.

The brilliant Reformed theologian and player in the Church of Scotland, T.F. Torrance died yesterday. He was a student of the theology of Karl Barth, and a pioneer in the work of a theology of science. He wrote "The Trinitarian Faith" which I have only glanced through, but should read now that his death sparked my interest and he is officially inducted into the guild of Dead Theologians and the communion of saints. R.I.P.