Archive for March, 2009

New Calvinism: A Caution

I had the privilege of preaching on Revelation 3:8-10 this past Sunday AM.  In this passage of Scripture Jesus presents 3 Encouraging Promises to the faithful congregation at Philadelphia and to faithful churches like this one.

 

Most Bible scholars believe that verse 10 looks forward to the tribulation period.  The debate really comes down to interpreting tereo ek correctly.  Revelation 3:10 ‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.’

 

One of the most helpful resources that I came across was a counterpoint book; The Rapture: Pre,-Mid,-Post- Tribulational by Gleason Archer Jr, Paul Feinberg, and Douglas Moo.  I think all expository preachers should carefully consider the quote below.

  

“The time of the Rapture is neither the most important nor the most unimportant point of Christian theology.  For some the Rapture question is a bellwether; its surrender marks the first step on the proverbial slippery slope that leads one to the rocks of liberalism.  But such is neither logically nor actually the case.  When one considers the whole spectrum of Christian theology, eschatology is only a small part of it.  Moreover, the Rapture question constitutes only a small segment of eschatology.  The contributors of this volume are in substantial agreement on matters of individual, or personal, eschatology and are all convinced of the same view with respect to the larger issues of premillennialism.

 

There are those who find the questions of the Rapture insignificant and uninteresting; they pride themselves in being above the battle.  But this is wrong.  Theologically, no aspect of revealed truth is unimportant.  The Rapture touches the extremely important issues of biblical interpretation, the relationship between the church and Israel, and the course of human history.  Practically, the time of the Rapture is significant because we aspire to know the whole counsel of God.  Furthermore, this matter touches the important issue of the nature of the Christian’s hope and expectation.  Am I to expect Christ’s return at any moment? Or, is my hope the protection in and deliverance by God from a time of worldwide tribulation? Thus, the task before us is an important one.”

 

One of the minor things that I have seen come out of the “New Calvinism” movement that concerns me is a general disregard for biblical eschatology (prophesy).  Panmillennialism is now en vogue- It will all pan out because God is sovereign… or “We’re above those battles”- Eschatology is too confusing and divisive to really teach on, etc, etc.

 

Now I realize some Christians are on the other end of the spectrum (prophesy pundits).  They eat, drink, and breath this subject but sadly miss the overall purposes of prophesy and eschatology.  Both extremes should be rejected.

 

I am a big supporter of movements like Together for the Gospel.  I just believe that reformed expository preachers need to be consistent.  They rightfully “cry foul” when preachers jump over Ephesians 1 and Romans 9-10 but then allow certain preachers to jump over Revelation 6-22 and Matthew 24-45.  Whatever happened to preaching the full counsel of God?

 

The way Archer, Feinberg, and Moo graciously interact with each other as brothers in Christ and as faithful bible scholars without compromising their biblical convictions is worth careful study and imitation.

Advertisements

Preaching NT Narrative: larger context

To fully appreciate the importance of narrative, it is not enough to retell a few favorite stories from the Old and New Testaments. In order to understand NT narrative, preachers must grasp the larger narrative of Scripture itself. Daniel Block writes, “. . . the Bible in its entirety is driven by a narrative framework: fundamentally it recounts the history of God’s relationship with humanity beginning with the latter’s creation and climaxing in the cross of Christ, which secures humanity’s redemption.”¹  Since God is the author and supreme subject of Scripture then we have to ask: what is the triune God telling us about Himself? Some refer to this as reading the narrative with a theocentric focus.² Grasping the larger narrative flow of the Bible will help us to see that every verse, pericope, and chapter of the Bible is fitted together in such a way as to raise this very question.

¹ Daniel I. Block, “Tell Me the Old, Old Story: Preaching the Message of Old Testament Narrative,” in Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using Old Testament Historical Texts, eds. David M. Howard Jr., and Michael A. Grisanti (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2003), 410.

² Dale Ralph Davis, The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2007), 121.

Would you sing this song?

Would you sing the following song during your AM worship service?  Assuming that you are ok with the lyrics, would Hank Williams lifestyle and the story surrounding the writing of this song allow you to do so

A reputable biography claims Hank Williams was coming back from a dance when this “backslider wrote this song of redemption.”  Williams was high and drunk when this song was first written (see book link below).  Unlike John Newton’s story, Hank Williams life provided little to no evidence of true conversion.  These realities have really troubled me.  What say you?
 
http://books.google.com/books?id=w-vCHr0ttR0C&pg=PA68&dq=I+saw+the+light+song+lyrics+history+Hank+Williams#PPA68,M1

I Saw the Light

Hank Williams

 

I wandered so aimless, life filled with sin

I wouldn’t let my dear Savior in

Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night

Praise the Lord, I saw the light

 

Just like a blind man, I wandered alone

Worries and fears I claimed for my own

Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight

Praise the Lord, I saw the light

 

I saw the light, I saw the light

No more darkness, no more night

Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight

Praise the Lord, I saw the light

 

I was a fool to wander and stray

For straight is the gate and narrow the way

Now I have traded the wrong for the right

Praise the Lord, I saw the light

A Remedy for Dealing with PRIDE

It is difficult not to think more highly of ourselves than we should. The flesh is the souls greatest enemy even though Christians are no longer enslaved to it (see Romans 7-8).
Do you want a practical remedy For dealing with sinful pride? Read Christian biographies like Iain Murray’s The Forgotten Spurgeon or Dallimore’s Susanna Wesley.  But even better read John Foxe’s The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. These Christian men and women/boys and girls of the faith (past and present) will shatter our self-appointed trophies. They are the true heroes of the faith (note Hebrews 11).

What was the last book you read?

So what is the last Christian book you’ve recently read?  Would you recommend it?

I recently finished, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, Doxology.   If you want to understand this pastor/theologian/scholar/Christian more accurately and deeply then do read this book.   It shows the reader that true Calvinism is so much more than TULIP. 

A few expository thoughts

From around the web:

Doug Wilson quotes Wagner on bold preaching, “The apostle believes that boldness in preaching is at heart a question of getting the message of Christ out clearly, despite the fearful threat of unpleasant consequences. In short, as I said before, boldness in the preacher is the willingness and ability to be clear in the face of fear” (Wagner, Tongues Aflame, p. 42).”

Peter Mead on boring preaching, “Is it the content?  Sometimes.  Is it the delivery? Sometimes.  Is it the lack of “illustrations” (a common quick-fix diagnosis)?  Sometimes.  Is it the presence of predictable illustrations?  Sometimes.  Is it the attitude of the preacher?  Sometimes.  Is it the personality of the preacher?  Sometimes.  Is it the personal spiritual walk of  the preacher?  Sometimes.  Is it the reality about God?  Never.”

Bob Johnson offers simple advice to new preachers (not bad for seasoned preachers also), “Faithfully explaining and applying the Scriptures will have more impact on your church than anything else you can do.”

Bill Mounce works through 1 Tim. 3:2, tackling the question: “Can an Elder be divorced?”

The Emerging Church from an economist’s perspective

Now for something completely different. I believe the whole Emergent/emerging church thing is one big train wreck not waiting to happen but has already happened. Some folks marginally associated with it in the past are still looking at the damage from the wreck saying, “see that wasn’t so bad.” I remember a number of us were discussing this here about four years ago and not a few of us said the whole thing sounds like warmed-over liberation theology mixed with a little java and jazz. I distinctly remember one fellow pastor looking at me like I was from Mars when I suggested that any ministry looking to expand the role of government for the sake of “social justice” would actually weaken the church.

Now economist William L. Anderson (Frostburg State University) is weighing-in on the emerging church saying what many theologians have observed for a number of years. “If one wishes to get at the core of the ‘Emergent Church’ theology, as loose as it might be, one finds that state action, and especially the government-led welfare state, is the earthly theological manifestation of Christianity. In other words, Christianity is not complete without the welfare state, as the welfare state is the essence of Christianity.”

Anderson goes on, “As one reads not only the Sojourners literature, but the works of Brian McLaren, Wallis, and others who are influential in this whole movement, one realizes that this is a theology (if one can call it that) which is grounded in the state engaging in welfare and distribution. If they are united in anything, it is not in Jesus Christ, crucified and raised again, but both in hatred of capitalism and the ascendancy of Barack Obama and the re-making of U.S. society.”

See the entire article here.

%d bloggers like this: