Friday, September 19, 2008

John the Calvinist: Part 2

Since we had an overwhelming response to the first post in this series and I do not know how to get to all the passages that our readers brought up (read that statement as sarcasm), the best approach to see John the Apostles "Calvinism" seems to be by working our way through John's Gospel chapter by chapter hitting all the high lights.

With this approach, the first passage to consider is John 1:11-13.
11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

The first thing to note about this passage is that some people do not receive Christ (that is the "him" in the passage) while others do receive Christ. Calvinism holds this to be true. People have to receive Christ to be saved and all who are not saved do, in fact, reject (i.e. do not receive) Christ. Because of mankind's fall into sin all people, by nature, will not receive Christ. This is something they do freely and willingly. It is not forced. While at the same time, all who receive Christ do it freely and willingly. But why is it that some receive Christ and others do not? Is it something within the person? It is their will? Their free will?

John answers these questions for us. All who receive Christ are made children of God. As it states in John 3, they are born again. But who is the agent in this "being born process"? John first tells us how this did not happen. Those who receive Christ were not born again of blood or by the will of the flesh or by the will of man. In other words, it is not because of anything the person who receives Christ did. The individual who is born as a child of God did nothing to be born of God. If the person does nothing to be born of God, how are they born of God?

John is clear on this point, all who are born again are brought to new life by God and God alone. In other word, the act of regeneration (being born again) is an act done solely by God. Just as a baby who is born into this world does nothing to cause this birth. So to, a Christian is born again without doing anything to cause their birth. Just as a new born baby freely breathes and eats once it is born. So to, a new born Christian freely receives Christ and feeds on him once they are born again by the act of God.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Meaning in Life?

I just watched the video below and I am wondering how an Atheist would respond. Any takers?

Friday, September 12, 2008

John Murray's Exceptions

It's been said,
many times,
many ways...

I have heard, mainly from those in the so-called "Federal Vision," many times that John Murray took a number of exceptions with the Westminster Standards. The story goes that Murray took, some say 5 and others 95, exceptions with Standards. I have looked for these exceptions, but to no avail. Does anyone know where, if at all, this story can be shown true or false?

John the Calvinist: Part 1

I am currently taking a class on the Gospel of John. As I read through this wonderful Gospel I am struck afresh at how "Calvinistic" this book really is. So, I thought I would start a series of posts looking at different passages in the Gospel of John that teach the doctrines known as "Calvinism," or the term I prefer, "the doctrines of grace."

In this first post I need your help. In the comments let me know what passages you would like me to discuss. It can be passages that are overtly Calvinistic or passages that you, the reader, thinks show Calvinism to be wrong. I am an equal opportunity blogger.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why Aren't You Dedicating Your Son?

The following is an excerpt from a letter I recently wrote to a family member regarding our decision not to have a "dedication" ceremony for our newborn son, Amos.

Traditionally, my family - as well as your side of the family - has dedicated their children to the Lord when they are born, and while I do believe that dedicating one's children to God and promising to raise them up in His ways is a good thing - in principle, anyway - I do not believe it is Biblical. Our son is not circumcised, and part of the reason we have chosen not to circumcise him is because God has given us as His people a covenant symbol in place of circumcision. He desires for his people to have hearts which are circumcised, but he has given us baptism as the new sign of the covenant. In the same way that the Old covenant was symbolized by circumcision, the new covenant is symbolized by baptism. Because we believe this, we believe that our son is a part of the Christian covenant community, and should be baptized to symbolize his inclusion in it. This does not mean that he is automatically saved, of course (none of us believes that baptism saves anyone), but it does mean that he is set apart from the rest of the world with the benefits of being included as a part of the Church until the day when he can either have his baptism confirmed or decide to turn away from the covenant symbol he was given. What this means is that we probably see baptism as two different things: whereas most of our family sees baptism as an outward sign that we have decided to follow Jesus, we see baptism as being an outward sign of the covenant of God. Because this covenant applies to us, as believers, as well as to our children, Arryn and I baptize our children for very much the same reason that the Israelites circumcised their children.

If a first century Jew had been following Jesus' teachings and then decided to become a Christian, they would have found it strange to exclude their children from the New Covenant, considering that they used to be included under the Old Covenant as part of the "church." Rather, let me suggest, that the idea of baptizing rather than dedicating one's children arose - in part - from the early church's belief that conversion to Christianity does not simply affect someone who is the head of the family alone, but that it affects the entire family - from the parents to the children.

This is certainly more than you asked for, but it basically summarizes our beliefs as far as dedicating our children, rather than baptizing them. If anything, we would very much like to have Amos baptized, but in the meantime we have decided together that the salvation of our children is the highest priority for us to pursue. In this way, we have already dedicated Genesis and Amos to the Lord.

Here is a serious question for everyone: I am a paedobaptist attending a reformed baptist church. Should we pursue a baptism through some other church, or simply give in and dedicate since that is our church's way?

Friday, September 5, 2008

He's Here!

Our son was born earlier today! His name is Amos Augustin Parker (my wife chose to spell his middle name without the "e" on the end so people wouldn't make the mistake of calling him "August-een"), and he was 9lb. 12oz. Labor started around 8am, and ended at 5:40, when he was finally born.

I want to just say that my wife is amazing. She has done the greatest thing I have ever seen before, and she did it without an epidural, without drugs, without any pain killers. She did it au naturale, and I couldn't be prouder. She feels a great sense of accomplishment for having done this, and that sense of accomplishment is well deserved.

Praise God that Amos has no birth defects, that he has no medical problems, that he is in good sound condition, and that the Lord blessed us with a great delivery team. Though we were not able to have him at home (due to the fact that we needed pitocin to get the contractions going), God still brought us a hospital staff that was respectful of Arryn's desire for a natural birth, and we just think the world of our midwife, Michelle, our nurse, Theresa, and our doctors, Dr. Jensen and Dr. Smothers.

Here is a video of Genesis meeting her little brother:

This is the first photo we took after he was born:

Hey; it was warm in there!

A proud father, once again:

Genesis holds her baby brother:

I have more pictures, but I don't want to swamp our page with photos and videos, so perhaps I'll save anything else for later. Praise be to God for His provision of safety and wise counsel.