Archive by terms
I've begun reading a book that I've had for a while called The Mystery Of Providence. No, it's not a history on Rhode Island. Providence, theologically speaking is the concept that everything that happens is within the plan of God. Some people may equate this to fate or karma. Fate and karma are understood more as random consequences or controlled by nature balancing out.
Providence is a rarely taught doctrine in our day. It offends our pride, our sense of independence and even our sense of self worth. I mean, if everything that happens, good or bad is somehow part of God's plan; then why do we even exist? What is the point? Are we just puppets to an all-consuming deity?
Our weekly study group did a study on what might be considered freewill vs "determinism". I want our group to consider if and how much God is in control. Here is an 11 slide powerpoint presentation you can view.
Gordon Clark, originally opposed by the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary when Clark tried to be confirmed within the OPC denomination -- enters into a new controversy even though he has been dead since 1985. Clark was initially opposed mainly because of his concept of "primacy of intellect". In this concept, Clark who was more a philosopher than a theologian advocated an almost humanistic notion that via the intellect, man could rightly conclude truth. Taken with Clark's other teachings which included that there is no such thing as paradox and that the Bible is the Word of God written, a person could approach the Bible as a logician would approach a mathematical equation. (NOTE: a paradox is only an apparent contradiction, not an actual contradiction. So, while the Bible may contain paradoxes, we Christians believe the Bible contains no contradictions)
SCRIPTURALISM: The Bible First, Then God
One of the major claims within Christianity is that Jesus is not merely a prophet or a wise man, but that Jesus is God Himself come in human form. Among the most aberrant heresies against historical, biblical Christianity is the denial of Jesus' divinity. Among the more modern deniers of Jesus' divinity are Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses. But before them, were some "Christan" sects, such as the Nestorians.
The question before the Church in 3rd and 4th centuries was how Jesus is God. Is Jesus the man merely a vessel into which divinity was "poured"; especially as it relates to the "dove/Holy Spirit descending on Him" in Mt 3:16 and Mk 1:10. At what point is Jesus, divine or God?
Whether it is when we talk about sports, politics, theology or any other topic, we use a specific language, or words that are specific to the topic. For instance, in American football, there are words like touchback, downs, yardage which have specific meaning.
In a Bible Study at my home on July 6, 2012; our group talked about the language of theology and what it means. For example, we addressed three words:
The usual claim is that doctrines like the Trinityi or forensic Justificationi by faith alone are "new" doctrines. That is, that these doctrines didn't exist at the time of the apostles or within the early Church. Depending on the honesty of the individual, the claim will be that these and other doctrines are completely new doctrines or that they are "developed" doctrines. By developed, they usually mean that the doctrines were there all along in the Bible but had to be better developed or understood by subsequent generations of Bible readers.
It is often common today to say things like "I'm sorry" or "I apologize" when you have somehow wronged a person in some way. But these phrases don't carry the sense of remorse the phrase; "Forgive me" carries. To say "I'm sorry" could mean many things, such as; "I'm sorry I got caught" or "I'm sorry you don't like it but...". Similarly, the word apology actually means "to make a defense", such as in the concept of Christian Apologetics. Someone who is truly remorseful for what they have done doesn't defend themselves.
Look, just ask your spouse which they'd rather hear when you have wrong them and you'll see what I mean.
In the debate between Arminianistic (human free-will) and Calvinistic (God's control) theology, each has its proof-texts. Each claims to be using Scripture alone to prove its position. Perhaps one way to resolve the dispute, so you'd think would be to simply put all the proof-texts side by side. Yet, as often as this has been done, the dispute continues. It could be because the proof-texts are presented as negating factors in an attempt to negate or cancel out another proof-text.
The approach of proof-texting does more damage than good, since to the non or weak Christian observer, it may appear Scripture is highly contradictory.
Christian Atomism is the underdeveloped notion that "everything is the same", that is, at base level, at the atomic or subatomic level everything is the same. While this may sound more like a philosophy or some sort of Gnosticism or Hellenistic/Neo-Platonic influence, there is strong biblical warrant for this notion.
First, the biblical Creation account has God creating the universe out of "firmament". (Gen 1:1-9) Eventually God creates humans from the humus or dirt of the reorganized firmament called planet earth. As we know, as any organic thing; be it humans, animals, or plants degrade - they return to "dirt". Or as the Bible puts it: "Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return." (Gen 3:19)
During the 2011 Indiana State Fair, a tragedy occurred where uncommon high winds collapsed a make-shift stage killing 5 persons and injuring many others (source). I express my heart-felt condolences for all the families affected by this tragic event.
In a ceremony to honor families, the first Lady of Indiana, Cheri Daniels gave a speech wherein she referred to the last line of Ecclesiastes 9:11. She said:
First let us look at Is 22:20-23 which is the first mention of this/these "key(s) of the house of David".
Is this a reference to the kind of authority Peter will have? Who is Eliakim the son of Hilkiah?
Does humanity have a "sense" or an innate awareness of God? Does humanity have within it a "seed of religiosity" and if so why? This has been the historic starting point of Christianity. Christianity has advocated that humanity does indeed have an innate awareness of God based on Romans 1:20
This is an extremely important point before we even get to the discussion of the Bible. So many people treat the Bible as if it is a book of logical axioms that can be used like some sort of sectional, sub-paragraphed legal document. There are things God says and does in the Bible that SEEM contradictory but in reality are not. (Examples: Commanding humans to keep the commandments, knowing full well no human had the ability to do so, or the entire Job account)
I routinely receive email questions which I normally answer privately but on Sept 30, 2010 I received a question that was so sincerely asked that I wanted to answer it publicly. The text of the email is as follows:
While within the environs of the independent fundamental baptist denominations, an often quoted and topic-launching verse was Proverbs 22:6
The implied contention is (at least within that denomination) that if you raise your children correctly, they will remain good, Christian persons.
Attached to this idea that you simply need to raise your child correctly are all sorts of other aspects such as; to home school or not, Christian school or not, sheltering or not.
Interestingly, some of the worst behaved children within the church structure tend to be the "pastor's kids"...at least this is what is often said. Is it the stigma and pressure of being the pastor's kid that would cause them to tend to rebel?
Further, children raised in strict Christian homes, sheltered from "the world" are often said to "go wild" later in life. If this is really true, why is this and how does it compare with what Proverbs 22:6 says?
Let's first look at the title, Son of God. In the Christian understanding, Jesus is seen as the unigenitus Dei Filius or the only begotten Son of God, whereas general humanity may be considered "sons of God" generically since God is called The Father. An example of the general use can be found in Gen 6:1-2 where it is said the "sons of God" copulated with the daughters of men. This verse is often interpreted as the "sons of God" being either angels or righteous men. The dominant interpretation is that "sons of God" indicate, humanity within the covenantal relationship with God, or specifically in Gen 6:1-2, the offspring of Seth rather than the offspring of Cain. The view that "sons of God" relates to angels is typically held by heretical or cultic groups, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses.(source #1, source #2 see also: Job 1:6, Job 38:7, Psalm 29:1)
The entry in the online dictionary, dictionary.com defines the word axiom as:
Clarkianism in summary, is the teaching by theologian Gordon Clark (1902-1985) that the presupposition or starting point of Christian theology is the axiom:
This specific reference to Clark's axiom is a quote of an address he gave while president of the Evangelical Theological Society. The fuller axiom and its conclusions are, "The Bible is the Word of God written. Therefore the conclusion is the Bible is inerrant. God cannot lie."
Now, the reason this axiom is actually irrelevant is because it doesn't really start in the correct place. Let us examine.
As a Reformed Christian, the subject of Sola Scriptura or Bible alone is a very important part of my approach to Christianity. But it is not so much "my" approach I want to understand, as I'm not very keen on developing a radical individualized theology. I am pursuing a course that will bring my faith more in line with the "faith once and for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Unfortunately, I have had Roman Catholics (RC) and Anabaptistic Christians alike tell me that if I want that kind of faith, I'll have to become a Roman Catholic. I disagree.
The topic of Sola Scriptura is prescient because so many times, we non-Roman Catholics seem to use that phrase but instead behave like it is "Sola private interpretation" and to heck with the faith passed down via the apostles (2 Thes 2:15) -- as if the Church was so corrupted within a few centuries, that it was not revived again until the Reformation. This is wrong thinking in that it ultimately undermines the continuity of Christianity and saws off the very branch we claim to sit on.
In this regard, I have had some interactions with Joe Heschmeyer, a Roman Catholic Christian and law student at Georgetown University Law Center.
Christians have long sought to understand what the "abomination of desolation" is that Jesus references in Matt 24:15 and Mark 13:14, which in turn cross-references back to Dan 11:31 and Dan 12:11. At least for the last 40 years in American "Left-Behindism", we have been told that the Abomination of Desolation is a time in the future when a "revived Roman Empire" is created and that the Devil or Antichrist is worshiped in a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. But what has most of historic Christianity thought of these passages?
Let's first look at Dan 11:31 and Dan 12:11
You will often hear an atheist claim that they are not Christian because Christianity is full of hypocrites, and it is true. The reason there are so many hypocrites, not only in Christianity but in any religion is because people are actually trying to hold themselves to a standard. The atheist doesn't have this problem. For the atheist, whatever he alone considers "good" is good and whatever he alone considers "bad" is bad. And he can change this at a whim. The atheist can't be a hypocrite because he has no standards to hold. No one can point to the atheist and say, "Ah-ha, you hypocrite! You aren't holding to what you believe", because what an atheist believes is so fluid and ever changing. Therefore the atheists excuse and accusation against religion is hollow and is instead a testament that the religious person believes something that is not being held.
First, we must ask where this idea comes from? Is it just hype created by the movie "2012"? Ironically enough, released in 2009. I've reviewed other movies from a Christian perspective but I wanted to delve into this concept in a way more than just a film review.
Apocalyptic scenarios have been with us since mankind began to tell stories, but is the 2012 account different? Let's first get to the origin of the concept. As you may know, a Mesoamerican culture called the Mayans maintained a calendar, called the Haab which ends on December 20, 2012. But why? This requires more about the creation accounts of the Mayans. According to Mayan theology, the gods created three worlds before this present world. The previous world ended on August 10, 3114 BC, and the present world began on August 11, 3114 BC. This in itself causes issues, since for example, according to popular biblical accounts the present world was created on October 23, 4004 BC,
It is interesting that every new generation of evangelical elites, whether it be conservative Calvinists or liberal Postmodernists seem to always go through a time of rediscovery. Christianity is supposed to be an historical religion, with continuity of foundation and purpose but so much time is expended simply rehashing the same issues that had been argued and settled often centuries before. I know some people enjoy this "journey" but to me it seems a waste of time to always be resetting to zero. Why can't we, especially as Christians simply stand firm in the foundations of our Faith? Why do people think it necessary to go through years and years of doubt, as if that is some great achievement? It is like the once obese person celebrating after achieving some milestone weight reduction while it would be better that we celebrate the person who always maintained their diet and never became obese. But such is our culture, always celebrating the overcomers of failure instead of the faithful maintainers of success.
A church in England preached Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18 and immediately many women members were so offended that they quit the congregation. So what does Eph 5:22 and Col 3:18 say that is so offensive?
Some of the women congregants said they were "disgusted" by the sermon which was accompanied by leaflets. Further, a woman member asked,
So we heard about the state of the Union, but what is the state of theology today? It is not a question to be asked by a politician but let each Christian ask him or herself. Let us base it on the biblical principle of 2 Cor 13:5 and 2 Peter 1:10. Is our theology a personal hodge-podge hobbled together or is it the faith of the community of saints? Is our faith a weak, beggarly faith more apt to be part of the Oprah or Dr. Phil show?
In the 21st century, Christianity is under attack not only from secularism, but from enemies within the gates; people who claim to be Christian but uphold everything but historic Christianity. Whether they are trying to make a "new kind of Christian", such as the Emergent/postmodernists have been attempting, or they fancy themselves as apologists or watchmen out to expose everyone and everything yet never seem to get around to applying 2 Cor 13:5 and 2 Peter 1:10 to themselves.
When we hear the phrase, "essentials of the faith", we think of beliefs that we might consider essential for salvation but that is not what is actually meant by essentials of the faith. The concept of "The Faith" is perhaps best encapsulated in Jude 1:3 wherein we read:
"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." -- NKJV
I know I'm a difficult person with which to befriend. Lately, I've really been trying to self-assess as to why that may be. Going through the list of some accusations that have been levied against me; Am I just a jerk? Am I "self-righteous/arrogant"? Can I really not "tolerate" anyone who disagrees with me? Or the most "loving" accusation I've had to endure is, Do I have a "chemical imbalance" or "serious personal problems", or "mental issues"? Well, I think I finally figured out what is going on.
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