Category Archives: Theology

Jonathan Edwards on Creation and the Creator

The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. [These] are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the ocean.

“The Christian Pilgrim”

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Arguing of No Consequence

Most things we argue about with our children are of little to no consequence. Typically, they are our attempt to commandeer worship from our children, rather than obedience to us as an expression of worship to God.

Is it really necessary that your child finish all her broccoli? Is it necessary that your child obey in the split second you have uttered your command? Delayed obedience is not always disobedience. It can be. That takes a few moments on your part to pay attention to your child and see why they are delaying response. This requires that you know your child better than a parenting method or book. My eldest daughter is a very intense little girl. When she wakes up before the sun rises to when she struggles with going to bed, she is constantly moving. She is running. She is jabbering. She is observing. She is playing hard. When she plays with her dollies, she does not pay attention to things around her. She doesn’t hear the television. She doesn’t smell the aroma of bacon and eggs. Her surroundings are non-existent while she is playing in her little world of dolls. For me to yell from another room, “Dinner’s ready.” I should not expect her to drop her dolls and run to the table every time. She is a human being. I should treat her with respect and love. That may mean I walk into her room (ten feet away from where I am standing), get on the ground at eye level, pick up a doll, and play. Taking her face in my hands, I then say, “Darling, supper is ready.” Let’s go set the table.

Sure this take A LOT more time. But is it not a little more respectful. Perhaps we can train our children, like in days gone by, that when the supper bell is rung you have five minutes to get to the table. This would help you in your time management as well. This is merely, home management. Every system and organization requires truncated ways of leading. But it requires consistency and explanation. It’s not yelling one minute and dolly playing the next.

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Two Conferences of Interest

One on John Bunyan in Whitlinsville, MA:

“A John Bunyan Feast”

October 22-23. Joel Beeke and Derek Thomas are the speakers.

Friday, October 22, 2010
12:30 PM Book Table Opens
1:30 PM Registration Opens
3:00 PM First Session: Pilgrim’s Progress: from the City of Destruction to the Cross Mr. Thomas
4:15 PM Dinner Break (at local restaurants)
6:00 PM Second Session: Bunyan’s Preaching to the Heart Mr. Beeke
7:20 PM Third Session: Pilgrim’s Progress: from the Cross to Vanity Fair Mr. Thomas
Saturday, October 23, 2010
8:00 AM Registration and Book Table Opens
9:15 AM Fourth Session: Bunyan on Justification Mr. Beeke
10:15 AM Coffee break and fellowship
10:45 AM Fifth Session: Pilgrim’s Progress: from Vanity Fair to the Celestial City Mr. Thomas
11:45 AM Questions and Answers
12:15 PM Lunch Break (at local restaurants)
1:30 PM Closing Session: A Bunyanesque Sermon on the Holy War Within Mr. Beeke

The other at Princeton Theological Seminary:

“These Speak of Me: The Glory of Christ in All of Scripture”

November 5-6. David Helm and Kent Hughes will be the speakers at this second conference.

PrCRT 2010

 

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Mysterious Mingling of Divine and Human

Known as the hypostatic union of divine and human in the God-man Jesus, the one person two natures formula is replete with mystery. It is a doctrine that Arius could not accept. It was a doctrine that led to the exile of Athanasius. It is not due to the fact that Athanasius has a political agenda (as some have argued), but he was compelled by the Scriptures to make sene out of the Bible’s teaching that Jesus received worship, yet was limited to geographic boundaries and knowledge. In a poetic passage from Athanasius we are challenged to put the two together.

When there was a need to raise Peter’s wife’s mother, who was sick of fever, He stretched His hand humanly, but he stopped the illness divinely. And in the case of the man blind from birth, human was the spittle which He gave forth from the flesh, but divinely did He open the eyes through the clay. And in the case of Lazarus, He gave forth a human voice, as man; but divinely, as God, did He raise Lazarus from the dead. These things were so done, were so manifested because He had a body, not in appearance, but in truth; and it became the Lord, in putting on human flesh, to put it on whole with the affections proper to it; that, as we say that the body was His own, so also we may say that the affections of the body were proper to Him alone, though they did not touch Him according to His Godhead.  {Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 3, p. 411)

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The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism : A Book Summary

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The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority by G. K. Beale. Crossway: Wheaton, 2008. 300pp. $20.00.

Beale’s monograph is in fact a conglomerate of articles (with minor revisions) that had been previously published in response to Peter Enns’ book Inspiration and Incarnation.. Beale wrote the articles to respond to the moving tide of evangelical OT scholarship away from the 1978 Chicago Statement on Inerrancy toward a limited authoritative model (as displayed in Barth).

The strength of Beale’s book resides in his ability to distil Enns’ thesis and main presuppositions that lead him down the road he has taken. Particualrly, Enns’ takes the Incarnation of Christ as the main analogy for Scripture (27). It is, however, this very model that is not supported with tangible examples that makes Enns’ thesis remain ungrounded. As Beale says, “Enns never spells out in any detail the model of Jesus’ incarnation with which he is drawing analogies for his view of Scripture” (54). It is telling that within the biblical narrative, prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah were esteemed as communicating God’s very words with his covenant community – as distinct from words they inevitably spoke that were not enscripturated.

Unfortunately, the dialogue between Enns and Beale becomes divergent when it comes to the audience of Enns’ book. It appears that instead of interacting with Beale’s criticisms, Enns has opted to take offense that his book is written for a popular audience rather than a scholarly audience. This appears to be an effort to excuse his uncareful language – as charged with Beale’s arguments (64-65).

Beale helpfully has his assistant Mitch Kim summarize Enns’ arguments (so as to help ensure more balance than one who is involved in the debate). This evinces humility and gains the reader’s confidence that Beale is not picking fights about semantics.

The strength of Beale’s book lays in his positive apology for the Bible’s inerrancy as historically understood from Isaiah’s authorship (ch. 5) to ANE cosmology (chs. 6 and 7). At the end of the day, Beale makes it clear what is at stake: “If [the biblical authors] imbibed the pagan mythological assumptions about the cosmos, then their unique theology would have been mixed with mythological notions” (217). In this way, the exclusive, unique religion of YHWH would be nothing more than a revision of Ba’alism.

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Don’t Just Talk About Christ’s Sweetness…Taste It

I have been steeping myself in Augustine over the past four weeks for a paper I am doing on Augustine’s view of Scripture – particularly inspiration. From his second exposition of Psalm 18 (19), this hit hard:

Verse 12. The sweetness of the commandments

12. Indeed your servant keeps them. Your servant tests their sweetness by keeping them, not merely by talking about it, and keeps them because they are sweet even now, and will bring him everlasting health in the future; for in keeping them there is great reward. Heretics are so attached to their rancor that they cannot see this brilliance, nor taste the sweetness.

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The Drama of Doctrine: A Book Summary

The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Westminster John Knox: Louisville, 2005. 493pp. $39.95.

According to the author, “The present book sets forth a postconservative, canonical-linguistic theology and a directive theory of doctrine that roots theology more firmly in Scripture while preserving Lindbeck’s emphasis on practice”  (xiii).  On the whole, this work is a fascinating piece that helps theologian and layperson grasp the energetic nature of Scripture. Lindbeck’s cultural-linguistic approach de-emphasized the autonomy of the exegete while heightening that of his enveloping culture – “the experience and the reasoning of the individual human subject is always already shaped by a tradition of language use” (10). By replacing “cultural” with “canonical,” Vanhoozer is able to say the same of Scripture – namely, it is the shaping subject for humanity. In this way, Vanhoozer reorients theology from theory to wisdom (13).

The author aptly shows how drama is a correcting foil for the theological endeavor. God is both the script(ure) writer and player in the drama. Humans are actors following a script. Theologians are the dramaturge for humanity.  Regarding the script, Vanhoozer makes it clear that this is a not a wooden mimic of the script. Rather, it is likened to a dinner theater, where the audience plays a part in the action and shaping as well. The actors are given roles, and they are so intended to enter into the ethic of the role that their actions and words will reflect the kind of person the playwright intended. Further, the Church acts out her parts in front of the surrounding culture and draws them into the drama that God intended them to live. Poignantly put, “Neither the pastor nor the magisterium should be allowed to become the sole voice or actor in the church. On the contrary, the whole people of God is responsible for participating in and continuing the action. Only an active rather than passive audience can turn deadly theater into ‘ a rehearsal of revolution.’ At its best, the church, as the theater of the gospel, is revolutionary, overturning idols and ideologies alike as it displays the first fruits of eschatological reality” (404; original emphasis).

Vanhoozer’s work should be read by all those who seek to bring doctrine and practice together. While this is not the only model by which we can organize Scripture’s teaching, the author has powerfully argued for it as a major contender. Unlike Michael Horton’s work regarding Divine Drama, Vanhoozer helpfully incorporates the surrounding culture in his model of theology. That is, rather than just saying that he will organize his theology around an analogy that follows the Bible’s own intrasystematic categories (when drama itself is not a category given in Scripture), Vanhoozer helps further theology’s enterprise of incorporating culture and Scripture together.

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