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Archive for the ‘Hermeneutics’ Category

Dig in!!

One doesn’t have to read very far in the Gospels to run across the central theme of the Kingdom of God. Not only is the Kingdom front and center, but it is also directly linked with the message and preaching of the Gospel itself. Mark documents the inception of Jesus’ ministry with these provocative words: “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel'” (Mk 1:14-5). Recognizing that this post is a little on the long side, I want to discuss three aspects of “coming” or presence of the Kingdom: 1) the distant, consummate Kingdom, 2) the then-present Kingdom, and 3) the then-immediately-anticipated Kingdom.  Clear as mud? Good. Let’s make some mud pie. First, and by far the most popular, would be the distant, consummate Kingdom. One aspect of the Kingdom was that it was a distant reality, distant from the Apostles, from their time. (Turns out that this aspect is the same for us today, just not quite so far off.) This distant aspect of the Kingdom is, I think, prayed for by Jesus: “Thy Kingdom come.”  It is also revealed in the two-age structure of NT eschatology:

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I have been reading through NT Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God. Generally speaking, I’ve found the book to be informative and quite useful. Even though it is a scholarly work, Wright’s style is lucid and engaging – not an easy thing to achieve. I don’t fancy myself to be a NT scholar. I’m familiar enough with scholarship to know that I’m not one. Therefore, I know that I’m susceptible to the ol’ scholarly snow-job. What’s that, you ask? Well, it is common enough for scholars to give vent to their vast learning (which is impressive) in such a way as to hide or obscure an error. I think that Wright has done just this at a certain point. (more…)

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The Bread and the Cup

We live in a period of time in which individualism is huge and the centrality of the church is almost non-existent. One casualty of this unfortunate arrangement is that coming to the Eucharistic Meal is seen almost solely as an individual’s personal choice, not as a matter of the official ministry of the church. As a campus pastor of mine put it to unbelievers at our Friday night para-church meeting: “When the bread is passed, if you feel God tuggin’ on your heart, go ahead and partake.” In the first place, a para-church organization (of which there are about 14 billion) has NO BUSINESS administering the Sacraments given to the church by Christ.  That aside, what does an unbeliever (even if he “feels God tuggin’ on his heart”) have to do with the Lord’s Table?! This is all quite misguided. It is wrapped up in the unseen errors of our own day, and it is a practice is not only largely missing from the history of the church, but is roundly condemned throughout the whole of that history. Finally, offering the holy Meal to people before they are baptized is not just contrary to church history, but is contrary to a sound reading of Scripture. (more…)

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A new acquaintance of mine (I hope we become friends, but it’s too early to call him a friend) has made some comments on this blog with reference to my claim that Jason Stellman has denied the Gospel as he has rejected the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This very acquaintance, Russ Rentler, has posted an article at his blog on the Gospel and if Stellman has denied it. Have a read.

Russ (if I may call him that) appeals to 1 Corinthians 15 to define the Gospel. Let me honestly congratulate him for this. He’s a man looking to God’s own Word for guidance. That’s very Protestant of him. As a Roman Catholic I should think he would be more consistent to appeal to the Magisterium, who will give him the *correct* interpretation of Scripture and Tradition. How, Russ, what makes you think that you can understand the Bible correctly? (more…)

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The Historicity of Adam

The belief in the historicity of Adam is certainly not a given, now-a-days. I recall Westminster California touting that they held to Adam’s historicity a couple of years ago, wearing it as a badge of conservatism. The fact that a Reformed seminary can wear a badge like that (and that is actually is such a badge) shows that the early chapters of Genesis have fallen on tough times. There are, however, a few rubes left that hold to the historicity of the first eleven chapters of God’s Word, including the historicity of person of Adam.

I ran across one of these unfortunate rubes today. The words of his sermon went a little something like this: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Now, I don’t place much stock in these pre-modern, pre-critical views, antiquated as they are. I’m well aware that moderns (Modernists?) have it figured out. (more…)

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This post is the second (here’s the first) in a series that should provide a biblical defense of the practice of infant baptism, and I admit that it’s way too long. I hope, however, that it is very clear and compelling. Having corresponded with my friend, I have come the conclusion that he holds to the spiritual unity between the believers before Christ and those of us after him, which was the concern of the first post. Since that is so, I hoping to progress in this post and examine the question of who is in the New Covenant. That is, is the New Covenant (NC) administration peculiar in that only the faithful are a part of it, or are unfaithful hypocrites also a part of the NC? The purpose of examining this question is that a significant number of folks hold that the NC is exclusively for the faithful (and thus quite distinct from the covenants that precede it). I think that such a view of the NC is incorrect. What’s more, I think it’s easy to show that such a view of the NC is incorrect. Finally, I think that such a view of the NC tends toward a misunderstanding of both the progression of administrations of the Covenant of Grace and the place of the children of believers in that Covenant. So, I’m still laying groundwork so that we can progress toward baptism and infant baptism specifically. Anyhoo… let us now look how the Bible views the NC and who it includes in that covenant. (more…)

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Meredith Kline

Three students from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary produced a paper (which can be found here) critical of a stream of thought rightly embodied in the impressive persons of Meredith Kline and Michael Horton. This article has, I think, some weaknesses, but it certainly got me thinking. First, it highlights some aspects of what might be called the Klinean version of covenant theology that have been troubling me for a few years.  In other words, I find myself in a great deal of sympathy with the positions and criticisms of the paper. Thus, there’s very little original content to my questions below (which makes me happy). Other Reformed brothers are having similar problems, and our thinking on these issues is quite similar. Second, it clues me in that, even though covenant theology is a topic that I’ve studied with a good deal of energy and attention, there’s still a great deal more for me to learn. I am quite willing to learn from Kline and Horton, as I consider them both my teachers. Consequently, a good deal of patience, humility, and brotherly love is requisite. In the spirit of brotherly love, here’s an article of similar length that I have not yet read. It’s by Lee Irons, and it defends Kline’s covenant theology. I’m quite interested to hear any responses from these articles or to my question below.

Okay, I’ll now take a few brain cells and a minute or two to ask a series of questions of the theologians that follow or defend the Klinean model of covenant theology. I ask these questions in earnest. As I’ve already admitted, I have a great deal of studying yet to do; maybe these brothers can lend me a helping hand. (more…)

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