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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jaroslav Pelikan on his work

"There ought to be somebody who speaks to the other 19 centuries, not everybody should be caught in this moment. I'm filing a minority report on behalf of the past."

-Jaroslav Pelikan.
(My favorite church historian),

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chesterton Quote

"My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday."

- New York Times Magazine, 2/11/23

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Prayer

"Almight God, who hast given us they only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made Thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by Thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the same Spirit ever one God, world without end. Amen."

- Book of Common Prayer 1928 - Prayer for Christmastide.

Merry Christmas

"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." - Luke 2:29-35

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. - Hebrews 1:1-3

Thursday, December 24, 2009

As the Prophets Foretold 5

"For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction."

Malachi 4

As the Prophets Foretold 4

"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

Malachi 3:1-4

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

As the Prophets Foretold 3

A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." A voice says, "Cry!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!"

Isa 40:3-9

As the Prophets Foretold 2

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isa 9:6-7

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

As the Prophets Foretold 1

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.

Micah 5:2-5a

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas and Sunday, with a poem by George Herbert

For many, Christmas is a favorite time of year. Many traditions, however, shunned the celebration of Christmas as an imposition from above. Some say it is a Reformed distinctive to abolish Holy Days, but John Calvin seems pretty Reformed and he did not require such things. Generally, Presbyterian Westminsterians in England had desired that the holiday ought not be imposed on anyone by the church (for there was not a basis in Scripture for requiring the celebration of Christmas) but did not legally ban the holiday until the more puritan Congregationalists took control, and Oliver Cromwell legally banned Christmas. [He's a mean one...Mr. Grinch!] A few, such as D.G. Hart, may think that was a good idea, but I tend to disagree. But D.G. Hart does make a wonderful point in his book on worship, that in the construction of "the church calendar" we have forgotten the original church calendar: The seven-day week.

The church calendar intended to conform the life of a Christian through the year to the life of Christ. We often forget that the 7-day week provides the same opportunity. First, the week reminded Israel that the first day of the week, God started the work of Creation. On the seventh day, God ceased working, setting a day apart for His worship. When Christ died on the sixth day, spent the seventh day resting in the grave and rose on the first/eighth day the imagery was not unintentional. The first day is the day of creation. Now the day of Christ's resurrection marks the beginning of new creation. As we worship on this Sunday, we ought to not rush to Christmas. Sunday should be primary in our thoughts of how time reminds us of the work of God.

Do we value Sunday? We certainly treat Christmas as a special day, changing our daily routine for that special day. Do we treat Sunday differently? Are we thankful for the gift of Sabbath rest and worship? Could we pen something like George Herbert in honor of the day of worship?

As for the poem: Notice the complexity of Herbert's structure. Seven lines. ABABCAC rhyming scheme. Herbert's poem on Sunday (from His book of poems "The Temple")

by George Herbert

O Day most calm, most bright,
The fruit of this, the next worlds bud,
Th’ indorsement of supreme delight,
Writ by a friend, and with his bloud;
The couch of time; cares balm and bay:
The week were dark, but for thy light:
Thy torch doth show the way.

The other dayes and thou
Make up one man; whose face thou art,
Knocking at heaven with thy brow:
The worky-daies are the back-part;
The burden of the week lies there,
Making the whole to stoup and bow,
Till thy release appeare.

Man had straight forward gone
To endlesse death: but thou dost pull
And turn us round to look on one,
Whom, if we were not very dull,
We could not choose but look on still;
Since there is no place so alone,
The which he doth not fill.

Sundaies the pillars are,
On which heav’ns palace arched lies:
The other dayes fill up the spare
And hollow room with vanities.
They are the fruitfull beds and borders
In Gods rich garden: that is bare,
Which parts their ranks and orders.

The Sundaies of mans life,
Thredded together on times string,
Make bracelets to adorn the wife
Of the eternall glorious King.
On Sunday heavens gate stands ope:
Blessings are plentifull and rife,
More plentifull then hope.

This day my Saviour rose,
And did inclose this light for his:
That, as each beast his manger knows,
Man might not of his fodder misse.
Christ hath took in this piece of ground,
And made a garden there for those
Who want herbs for their wound.

The rest of our Creation
Our great Redeemer did remove
With the same shake, which at his passion
Did th’ earth and all things with it move.
As Sampson bore the doores away,
Christs hands, though nail’d, wrought our salvation,
And did unhinge that day.

The brightnesse of that day
We sullied by our foul offence:
Wherefore that robe we cast away,
Having a new at his expence,
Whose drops of bloud paid the full price,
That was requir’d to make us gay,
And fit for Paradise.

Thou art a day of mirth:
And where the Week-dayes trail on ground,
Thy flight is higher, as thy birth.
O let me take thee at the bound,
Leaping with thee from sev’n to sev’n,
Till that we both, being toss’d from earth,
Flie hand in hand to heav’n!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Peter's Denial

While preparing for a Sunday School Lesson, I found a couple of great treatments of the denial by Peter of Christ during His trial:

“As [Christ] was hanging, [the apostles] were in alarm, and the Apostles then despaired when the robber believed. Peter dared to follow, when the Lord was led to suffering, he dared to follow, who came to the house, and was wearied in the palace, and stood at the fire, and was cold; he stood at the fire, he was frozen with chilling fear. Being questioned by the maid-servant, he denied Christ once; being questioned a second time he denied Him; being questioned a third time he denied Him. God be thanked, that the questioning ceased; if the questioning had not ceased, long would the denial have been repeated.”

-Augustine of Hippo. Sermon 85 on the Gospels.

“But now our love to God is ebbing and flowing, waning and increasing. We lose our first love, and we grow again in love – scarce a day at a stand. What poor creatures are we! How unlike the Lord and His love! “Unstable as water, we cannot excel” [Gen 49:4]. Now it is, “Though all men forsake you, I will not,” [then] “I know not the Man” [Matt 26:33, 72, 74].One day, “I shall never be moved, my hill is so strong.” [Psalm 10:6], the next, “All men are liars, I shall perish.” [Psalm 116:11] Whenever was the time, wherever was the place, that our love was one day equal toward God?”

-John Owen. Communion with God

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reformed View of the Eucharist

French Confession XXXVI. We confess that the Lord's Supper, which is the second sacrament, is a witness of the union which we have with Christ, inasmuch as he not only died and rose again for us once, but also feeds and nourishes us truly with his flesh and blood, so that we may be one in him, and that our life may be in common. Although he is in heaven until he comes to judge all the earth, still we believe that by the secret and incomprehensible power of his Spirit he feeds and strengthens us with the substance of his body and of his blood. We hold that this is done spiritually, not because we put imagination and fancy in the place of fact and truth, but because the greatness of this mystery exceeds the measure of our senses and the laws of nature. In short, because it is heavenly, it can only be apprehended by faith.

FC - XXXVII. We believe, as has been said, that in the Lord's Supper, as well in baptism, God gives us really and in fact that which he there sets forth to us; and that consequently with these signs is given the true possession and enjoyment of that which they present to us. And thus all who bring a pure faith, like a vessel, to the sacred table of Christ, receive truly that of which it is a sign; for the body and the blood of Jesus Christ give food and drink to the soul, no less than bread and wine nourish the body.

2nd Helvetic (Swiss) XXI - Spiritual Eating of the Lord. There is also a spiritual eating of Christ's body; not such that we think that thereby the food itself is to be changed into spirit, but whereby the body and blood of the Lord, while remaining in their own essence and property, are spiritually communicated to us, certainly not in a corporeal but in a spiritual way, by the Holy Spirit, who applies and bestows upon us these things which have been prepared for us by the sacrifice of the Lord's body and blood for us, namely, the remission of sins, deliverance, and eternal life; so that Christ lives in us and we live in him, and he causes us to receive him by true faith to this end that he may become for us such spiritual food and drink, that is, our life.

Heidelberg Question 76: What does it mean to eat the crucified body and drink the shed blood of Christ?

Answer 76: It means not only to embrace with a believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ, and thereby to obtain the forgiveness of sins and life eternal; but moreover, also, to be so united more and more to His sacred body by the Holy Spirit, who dwells both in Christ and in us, that, although He is in heaven and we on earth, we are nevertheless flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone, and live and are governed forever by one Spirit, as members of the same body are governed by one soul.

Belgic Confession Art 35 - We believe and confess that our Saviour Jesus Christ has instituted the sacrament of the holy supper to nourish and sustain those whom He has already regenerated and incorporated into His family, which is His Church...

It is beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ did not commend His sacraments to us in vain. Therefore He works in us all that He represents to us by these holy signs. We do not understand the manner in which this is done, just as we do not comprehend the hidden activity of the Spirit of God. Yet we do not go wrong when we say that what we eat and drink is the true, natural body and the true blood of Christ. However, the manner in which we eat it is not by mouth but in the spirit by faith. In that way Jesus Christ always remains seated at the right hand of God His Father in heaven; yet He does not cease to communicate Himself to us by faith. This banquet is a spiritual table at which Christ makes us partakers of Himself with all His benefits and gives us the grace to enjoy both Himself and the merit of His suffering and death. He nourishes, strengthens, and comforts our poor, desolate souls by the eating of His flesh, and refreshes and renews them by the drinking of His blood.

Although the sacrament is joined together with that which is signified, the latter is not always received by all. The wicked certainly takes the sacrament to his condemnation, but he does not receive the truth of the sacrament. Thus Judas and Simon the sorcerer both received the sacrament, but they did not receive Christ, who is signified by it. He is communicated exclusively to the believers.

Westminster 29.VII. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Christ of Micah

I've been pretty sparce on original material lately. I have been churning out papers for the end of the semester, and have about 30 pages worth to go before Tuesday, which wouldn't be so bad if one of them wasn't a Hebrew paper. Anyway, I thought if I were to post anything it would be from a paper.

I just finished a paper on Micah following a method that kept everything within a historical-grammatical-only method, which I distain (
see here). Last time this happened with Job I went back through the book to see what it really meant by the criteria of Christ (John 5:39; Luke 24:44-45) rather than old German Liberal methods, and I found Christ has something to do with Job! Anyway, I threw this paragraph on the end of the paper on Micah as my conclusion just for fun and truth's sake:

Micah is not rightly read or understood until it leads to Christ. (DTS Doctrinal Statement Article 1) Christ is the climax of Micah’s restoration. The labor pains of judgment for sin give birth to Christ, in predicted Bethlehem. (Matt 2:1-6; Micah 5:2) Micah predicts a greater restoration of the Temple than Ezra records. (Ezra 3:12; Micah 4:1) Jesus points to Himself as that Temple, greater than the Temple built in the restoration. (Matthew 12:6) Micah’s greater ruler, who’s ways were from ancient days, is the eternal second Person of the Trinity. (Micah 5:2) Micah’s great shepherd is the Good Shepherd. (Micah 5:4; John 10) Christ is the firstborn, sacrificed where Israel’s would not do. (Micah 6:7) Some of the promises of Micah await fulfillment in full, such as the bringing of peace to all the earth (Micah 4:3). Whether these promises have been realized, begun to be realized or await another day, nothing could be more sure than that they all find their fulfillment and realization in Jesus the Messiah. (John 5:39; Luke 24:44-45) The ultimate resolution to the argument of Micah, then, is Christ.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hymn of Confession

A great hymn based on Psalm 51.

God Be Merciful to Me

God, be merciful to me,
On Thy grace I rest my plea;
Plenteous in compassion Thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within,
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

My transgressions I confess,
Grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against Thy grace
And provoked Thee to Thy face;
I confess Thy judgment just,
Speechless, I Thy mercy trust.

I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
Teach Thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, Thy grace bestow,
Wash me whiter than the snow.

Broken, humbled to the dust
By Thy wrath and judgment just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice
And in gladness hear Thy voice;
From my sins O hide Thy face,
Blot them out in boundless grace.

Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation’s joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.

Sinners then shall learn from me
And return, O God, to Thee;
Savior, all my guilt remove,
And my tongue shall sing Thy love;
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall praise accord.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What is the Bible about?

Who said this?

"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."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Why Sproul declined to sign the Manhattan Declaration

I'm not going to harp on this anymore. Many people I respect (Chuck Colson, Al Mohler, etc) signed the Manhattan Declaration. However, if you could read only one explanation of why not to sign it, I recommend R.C. Sproul's explanation:

The drafters of the document, Charles Colson, Robert George, and Timothy George, used deliberate language that is on par with the ecumenical language of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) movement that began in the 1990s. The Manhattan Declaration states, “Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s Word,” and it identifies “Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelicals” as “Christians.” The document calls Christians to unite in “the Gospel,” “the Gospel of costly grace,” and “the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness.” Moreover, the document says, “it is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season.”

Without question, biblical truth must be proclaimed and the gospel preached prophetically to our nation. But how could I sign something that confuses the gospel and obscures the very definition of who is and who is not a Christian? I have made this point again and again since the days of ECT. Though the framers of the Manhattan Declaration declaim any connection to ECT, it appears to me that the Manhattan Declaration is inescapably linked to that initiative, which I have strenuously resisted. More than that, this new document practically assumes the victory of ECT in using the term “the gospel” in reference to that which Roman Catholics are said to “proclaim” (Phil. 1:27).

The rest here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Ignatius of Antioch on Interpretation

Ignatius of Antioch was likely trained by the Apostles themselves. He had the unenviable task of shepherding the church after the Apostles were gone. A controversy arose in which Christians were debating the proper interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures (which they refered to as the archives). Some people were arguing with Ignatius' proclamation that Jesus was the subject and controlling hermeneutic of the Old Testament:

Ignatius Letter to the Philladelphians 8:2-9:2 -

"I urge you do nothing in a spirit of contentiousness, but in accordance with the teaching of Christ. For I heard some people say, "If I do not find it in the archives, I do not believe it in the gospel." And when I said to them, "It is written," they answered, "That is precisely the question." But for me, the 'archives' are Jesus Christ, the unalterable archives are His cross and death and His resurrection and the faith comes through Him; by these things I want, through your prayers, to be justified.

The priests, too, were good, but the High Priest, entrusted with the Holy of Holies, is better; He alone has been entrusted with the hidden things of God, for He Himself is the door of the Father, through which Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and the prophets and the apostles and the church enter in.. All these come together in the unity of God. But the gospel possesses something distinctive, namely, the coming of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, His suffering, and the resurrection. For the beloved prophets preached in anticipation of Him, but the gospel is the imperishable finished work. All these things together are good, if you believe with love."

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Why are we bored with the Gospel?

Honest question. I'm soliciting for answers. I've been amazed how often we get bored with the gospel. When we have a problem, the gospel is too boring as an answer. When reading Scripture, the gospel is too boring of an application. When thinking of Christ's work, the gospel is skipped over for other subjects. When defining the gospel, we prefer new inovative ways of defining it rather than the way the Scriptures or church has, "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." (1 Cor 15:3-4)

I was listening to a (conservative, evangelical, well-educated) speaker the other day and when he read a passage from Scripture he said "We typically just think about this as God forgiving us as sinners, that God offers us mercy if you repent." Just? Then he went on to suggest the idea of Christ as King was more interesting, and saying "repent and God forgives" in a mocking redneck voice as if it was the position of backwards hicks. Maybe its not about sinners being justified after all. That was the "exciting idea." The doctrine that is to make my heart race is the God whom I've offended is going rule and judge as King, not that he has qualified me to stand before judgment?

Why? Are we really this bored with the Gospel? Is Redemption passe? What's going on here?

Why are we bored with the Gospel?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Favorite Christmas Albums

I'm not much of a Christmas music fan. For that measure, I'm not much of a "Christian music" fan, (which I think is largely a ghetto for untalented musicians to take their cruddy mushy songs about their girlfriends and sing them about Jesus). But anyway, there are notable exceptions to both. As Christmas nears, I start dumping these albums into my playlist.

Sufjan Stevens - Songs for Christmas

A set of Christmas songs and just great hymns. The selections range from silly to nostalgic to moving. This album is simply beautiful. A work of art.

Andrew Peterson - Behold the Lamb of God

Two years ago, we caught the live performance of "Behold the Lamb of God" in Dallas. Peterson tells the Christmas story in a fresh way: as part of the story of redemption, from Moses to the cross. The must is great, especially "Gather Round" and "It Came to Pass." I appreciate "Labor of Love" that doesn't idealize the birth of Christ as a "silent night" but as bloody and hard as any pregnancy...why do we rob Mary of her honor by thinking it was an easy happy affair?

Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas

Who doesn't love this album?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Carson (kind of) on the Manhattan Declaration

Carson recorded this before the Manhattan Declaration came out, but what he says tends to sum up all my reservations about the document:

Spirit and Word

When we ask what "The Spirit taught me," do we ask how the Spirit taught "In the Word?" Not that all learning is head knowledge. Indeed, if all we learn stays in the head and never makes it to the heart and hands, it was not really learned. Yet, I do think we should ask if the experiential conforms to the Word. An interesting section in Calvin I came across in my thesis research:

"If Scripture is quoted against the Pope, he maintains that we ought not to confine ourselves to it, because the Spirit is come, and has carried us above Scripture by many additions. Mahomet asserts that, without his Alcoran, men always re-main children. Thus, by a false pretense of the Spirit, the world was bewitched to depart from the simple purity of Christ; for, as soon as the Spirit is separated from the word of Christ, the door is open to all kinds of delusions and impostures."

-John Calvin on John 16:14