Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

What is the relationship between spiritual maturity and knowledge of things theological and biblical? This question could be addressed by way of a similar question in a different arena. What’s the relationship between knowledge about how to have good marriage and actually having a good marriage?

If asked in that way, I think a significant portion of the answer is immediately apparent. Can one have a good marriage without knowledge of how to have one? No. That knowledge can be attained from experience (as opposed to reading). What’s more, a person might have that knowledge from experience and not be able to formulate and articulate it. Even so, knowledge about having a good marriage is necessary to having a good marriage, but it is not sufficient to have a good marriage. Clearly, the knowledge must be applied. (more…)

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Augustine and Calvin

This post is mostly a personal recollection about how I came to know “the doctrines of grace” or “Calvinism.” There have been a couple of instances recently that have prompted me to think about how it was that I became a Calvinist. Before I delve into some personal reflection, however, I should like to tidy up things on a terminological level. What’s meant by the terms “Calvinism,” “the doctrines of grace,” “sovereign grace,” and the like?

Typically, people use all of those words/phrases to point to John Calvin’s emphasis on the sovereignty of God in salvation. Calvin, however, was no innovator. The set of teachings that bears his name has very little to do with him specifically. (more…)

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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 Baptized BodyThe Baptized Body by Peter J. Leithart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For me, this book, like Leithart’s writings generally, was both a hit and a miss. Let’s take it from the top.

Chapter one, “Starting before the Beginning,” was intended to clear “enough ground to move ahead” to discuss the biblical texts about baptism. This chapter seemed a bit choppy, as Leithart’s hitting on different philosophical, ontological, and theological topics. It was intended to be controversial with section headings such as, “Why Sacraments Are Not Signs,” “Why Sacraments Are Not Means of Grace,” and “Why Sacraments Are Not Symbols.” That said, I found the concept of Sacraments as rituals to be compelling and helpful. Sacraments can, however, be signs, means of grace, symbols, AND rituals. (more…)

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One of my FB friends, Mark Ketchum, made some comments that got me thinking about the nature of God’s law and how it works into human law. The ObamaCare situation is right in front of everyone and is a pretty hot topic. Politics is always a game of lies, smoke and mirrors: Tea Party folks are supposed to be on the rampage, but I have not seen the riots yet. While on the other hand, Obama has just won another significant battle whilst moving toward instituting his one-world-order. I’m not really interested in any of the rhetoric. This post will be  short one which I hope will spark some discussion about the nature of God’s law relative to the nature of human law.

God’s law tells us not to steal. One’s not supposed to take other people’s property. Er… if it ain’t yers, keep yer hands off it. The Eighth Commandment is simply fundamental; civilization could not function without this command. (Small pockets of civilization could for a time, but not large-scale and not for too long.) This commandment, being one of the Big Ten, really should weigh quite heavily in our thinking. This divine command, though fundamental, is not the only law in the Bible that informs private property and the sharing of goods. (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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