Sunday, October 31, 2010

King and Servant Show 25

Blubrry player!

Jonathan discusses the "already not-yet" principle of New Testament scripture, under the rubric of the Two-Age model, and how this principle relates to personal sanctification.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Free Burk Parsons Book, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology

Amazon is quickly justifying my decision to get this Kindle. I've had it for about 10 months, and in the course of that time, I have received enough freebie books to pay for the Kindle several times over, now.

Today, you can get the Kindle edition of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, Doxology, edited by Burk Parsons, from Amazon. Just follow this link. [Note: No longer free as of 10/27).
John Calvin s name evokes powerful images, most of them negative. In the minds of many, he is perceived as an ivory-tower theologian who was harsh and unreasonable, the driving force behind a dangerous theological system. In this volume, Burk Parsons and eighteen other leading Reformed pastors and scholars authoritatively reveal the truth about Calvin and his teaching that he was humble, caring, pious, Scripture-saturated, and, above all, passionate about upholding the glory of God. Published in conjunction with the five-hundredth anniversary of Calvin s birth (2009), John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology offers a highly readable portrait of a man whose example and teaching remain vitally relevant even in the twenty-first century.

The following is a chapter list, with the names of the contributors to this fine volume:
Foreword - Iain H. Murray
Preface - Burk Parsons

1. Burk Parsons: The Humility of Calvin's Calvinism
2. Derek W.H. Thomas: Who Was John Calvin?
3. Sinclair Ferguson: Calvin's Heart for God
4. D.G. Hart: The Reformer of Faith and Life
5. Harry L. Reeder: The Churchman of the Reformation
6. Steven J. Lawson: The Preacher of God's Word
7. Robert Godfrey: The Counselor to the Afflicted
8. Phillip R. Johnson: The Writer for the People of God
9. Eric Alexander: The Supremacy of Jesus Christ
10. Thibiti Anyabwile: The Transforming Work of the Spirit
11. John MacArthur: Man's Radical Corruption
12. Richard D. Phillips: Election and Reprobation
13. Thomas K. Ascol: Redemption Defined
14. Keith A. Mathison: Transforming Grace
15. Jay E. Adams: A Certain Inheritance
16. Philip Graham Ryken: The Believer's Union With Christ
17. Michael Horton: The Principle Article of Salvation
18. Jerry Bridges: The True Christian Life
19. Joel R. Beeke: The Communion of Men With God
Even when this book wasn't free, it was on my "To Get" list. I recommend that all of you get this book - free or not.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Postmodernism and the Kids' Show 'Super Why!'

Ever since my children started watching the PBS show Super Why! I have felt nebulous misgivings. Essentially, the show revolves around a main character, Whyatt, who lives in Storybook Village. Each episode centers around Whyatt or one of his friends who find themselves involved in some sort of minor altercation with another person. Usually, it's as simple as Whyatt missing his brother, who's away at school. Whyatt and his friends' philosophy for answering these difficult 'problems' is to "look... in a book!" My sister told me that she hates the show because of what always happens next on the show.

The main characters will go into the story and practice reading and spelling with kids while they explore the story. They use their 'spelling power' to change the story and find the solution to their real world problem. The way this looks, as one example, is, changing the frog prince back into a frog, because it turns out the princess likes him better as a frog. Inevitably, the characters will draw a somewhat specious conclusion from the story to apply to their real world experience.

This show is a mirror for our postmodern times in which we live. A few observations backing this up:

1) On the show, problems are never issues of objective right or wrong. A problem is always defined in interpersonal terms. It's never "I saw so-and-so steal candy. What's the right thing to do?" It's always something like, "I messed up my brother's bedroom. How can he stop being mad at me?" So in some ways, the problems on the show are pragmatic, rather than idealistic.

2) Literature is never in a 'set' form. Everything is up for interpretation and change for the sake of solving problems to the satisfaction of the Super Readers. This approach is a specific aping, in my opinion, of the philosophy of literary deconstructionism as championed by Derrida in the 70s.

3) It teaches children that even if there are legitimate books to get our answers from, those books only mean what we want them to mean. In a way, it innoculates children against learning anything legitimate from books by teaching them that they can find anything they want in them.

Incidentally, one should consider that these two problems are core aspects of the show. There are other problems with the show, I'm sure. I don't really have high expectations for kids' shows on PBS championing objective morality, right/wrong, etc. but it's nice to be able to put your finger on the problem every now and then.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

WTS $5 Book Special - 48 Hours Only

Westminster is having a 48 Hour special on a new book by Jeremy Walker and Rob Ventura titled A Portait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ. The book normally sells at $18, so the temporary $5 price amounts to a 70% discount.
What does a true pastor look like, and what constitutes a faithful ministry? How can we identify the life and labors of one called by God to serve in the church of Jesus Christ? To address these questions, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker examine how the apostle Paul describes his pastoral relation to the people of God in Colossians 1:24–2:5. By discussing these essential attitudes, qualities, and characteristics of a faithful minister of Christ, A Portrait of Paul provides gospel ministers an example of what they should be, and demonstrates for churches the kind of pastors they will seek if they desire men after God’s own heart.
Among the very appealing endorsements from men such as Joel Beeke and Derek Thomas, Ben Dahlvang's seems the most pointed:
"If you are burned out in your ministry or have lost the vision of what it means to care for Christ's sheep, read this book. If you are a member of a church and find it easy to criticize your pastor, read this book. If you think you are called to the gospel ministry, and especially if you think you know what that call entails, read this book twice."
In other words, this book is for all of us. I am currently reading the sample chapter from Westminster, and I think there is a lot to benefit from in this book.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Peter Martyr Vermigli on Church and State

Many of you may not know who Peter Martyr Vermigli was. I didn't until I heard Derek Thomas talk about how hard it is to read his writings without taking out a second mortgage. That is a shame, because this thoroughly orthodox Italian Reformer was a contemporary of Calvin (ten years older, actually), and Calvin quote him quite heavily throughout the Institutes. His book Loci Communes is half the reason why I'm in the process of trying to learn Ecclesiastical Latin. Among the more interesting things I discovered about Peter Martyr is that he and Calvin both affirmed the doctrine of the duplex gratia deus - the twofold gift of justification and sanctification at conversion, by virtue of one's union with Christ.

In his book The Zurich Connection & Tudor Political Theology, Torrance Kirby translates some selections from Vermigli's lectures on the book of Judges, given in Strausburg during the 1550s. These lectures relate directly to Vermigli's views of church and state. While these lectures were very relevant for their own day, addressing a monarchical political system, many of his themes are very interesting, and I will share some exerpts from Kirby's translation from the Latin.
Both ministers and magistrates act to nurture the pious, but in different ways. The magistrate increases them in works, honours and merits. The minister consoles them through the promises of God and the sacraments. The magistrate assures that the laws are kept most carefully, the guilty are punished, and the good are both helped and nurtured. The law acts as a mute magistrate, while the magistrate represents the moving and speaking law. Certainly he is also a minister of God since, as Paul said, magistrates sing the praises of those who live justly. The magistrate wields the sword against the wicked, acting as the avenger and champion of God, and looks to nothing else but the salvation of men.
For Vermigli, the civil magistrate and the church both have a similar goal/purpose. Both are concerned with mens' souls. "These two powers are in a certain way interchangeable, and deal with the same issues in various ways, and mutually reinforce each other." The magistrate is the outward spur as it were to good works, and the church is the spiritual or internal spur. I find the reference to the law as a 'mute magistrate' to be very profound, as well.

Elsewhere, Vermigli discusses Paul's decision to appeal to a rather evil secular authority in Caesar:
Just as we make daily use of the sun and the moon so is it permitted to employ the services of the public magistrate, of whatever sort he may be.
Elsewhere, we see that Vermigli isn't exactly what we would call Radical (Reformed) Two Kingdoms:
The word of God supports all ecclesiastical power, so it is nothing without it. Moreover, the word of God is a common rule by which everything should be arranged and which everyone should obey. It teaches how the external sword and the commonwealth should be managed. It shows us how all things should be done by all men.
And then, in a more extended passage:
In this way, the ecclesiastical power encompasses everything, because it draws its propositions from the word of God. There is nothing in this world to which the word of God fails to extend. Those who seek to know what churchmen have to do with the commonwealth, with warfare, pharmacy, or cooking falter seriously. They say that when a minister of the word takes notice of these things, he violates the law of God, and should be reprimanded according to the word. Why not warn them? Why not command them to stop their sinning? The minister’s duty is to correct sinners, not with the sword or through fines, not through prison sentences or exile, but rather by his own proper function, which is through power of the word of God. Political power extends to all things that pertain to political power, yet in what way? Does the civil power command the appropriate motions of the soul and of inward repentance? It cannot bring about these things. Instead, it provides the individual with the means to bring these things about on his own...The proper methods of ruling for both powers must be taken from the word of God, which is in the Church.
Of the King, Vermigli says,
He is ordained as the guardian not only of the first table of the law, but also of the second. He who offends according to either table attacks the regal power. While a king can remove useless or harmful bishops, a bishop cannot cast down a king who has sinned. John [the Baptist] criticises Herod, but does not reject him as king.
I'm sure that there are others better equipped to evaluate Peter Martyr Vermigli's political views, but you don't exactly run into Vermigli translations every day, so I thought I would share the more interesting nuggets from what I've read. Needless to say, however, Vermigli probably wouldn't be best friends with Paul Helm or D.G. Hart when it comes to political matters.

Free R.C. Sproul Book

...if you have a Kindle, that is. Sproul's book A Taste of Heaven is available for free today at Amazon for immediate download to the Kindle. Like Sinclair Ferguson's book last week, this is probably a one-day-only offer.

In A Taste of Heaven, Dr. Sproul examines the key components of prayer, praise, and sacrifices that God gave to His people in the Old Testament. He shows how biblical principles can guide today’s worshipers, for the Lord has designed worship to give His people a taste of heaven.
As a side note, I am unhappy with the way that this e-book is formatted. The text is unpleasant, and too large. The Ferguson book was formatted the same way. But nevertheless, it is still a free book, and I could see many disagreeing with my assessment of the font.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Paul Helm on Tim Keller's 'Political Involvement'

Paul Helm, has offered some thoughts on the new book by Tim Keller, which argues that Christians ought to be politically involved. Discussing Calvin's view of Christian Liberty, Helm appeals to The Institutes, IV.10.6, and argues from Calvin that one may be in church worshipping next to someone from nearly any political persuasion. In essence, Helm says, this is the spirituality of the church:
This is the idea that the church’s business has to do solely with the Gospel, with its faithful exposition, the calling of Christians to engage in public worship, and with the consequences of this good news being received as the word of God by men and women. If Christians think their social and political views should be expressed in the public square, then they should enjoy the support of the state. But that’s the extent of it. It is uncalled-for for the church to take any particular political stance, just as it was impudent and out of order for C.H. Spurgeon to advise his hearers at the Metropolitan Tabernacle to vote Liberal at a forthcoming election. What has that to do with him? As a minister of the gospel, it was none of his business. It is as offensive to think of the Liberal Party as the Metropolitan Tabernacle at prayer, as it is to think of the Tories as the Church of England at prayer.
A more robust and plain expression of the two kingdoms would be hard to find.
These chaps, and perhaps Dr Keller as well, seem to think that a Christian’s attitude to politics is a part of Christian doctrine. But on each of the topics that they treat of - ‘human rights, law and order, the role of the family, the nature of wealth and prosperity, and public discourse’, there are umpteen different views. Who is to say what is the Christian view of human rights, or of law and order, or (even) of the family? Not to speak of the nature of wealth and prosperity, and of public discourse.
I am certainly not decided on these issues, as I am continually hearing persuasive arguments from all sides. That isn't to say that I don't have my favorites... it's just that I'm not prepared to defend them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

13 Confessions

1. I want to be able to read Shakespeare and just really get it. You know? I want to be able to read it and just drink it in, instead of struggling through it. I read Act One of Hamlet tonight, and I'd like to say it was easy, but it was worth it.

2. I want to stop being so squirmy, and just be happy in my own skin.

3. I want to use facebook rarely, because for all of its benefits, I am looking at people more in terms of information, and less as people and friends.

4. I want to become comfortable with the fact that I'll never be the best at anything.

5. I wish I loved people. But mostly, I just see everyone as an inconvenience.

6. I'm afraid to talk to strangers or make small talk with anyone.

7. I'm afraid that I'd be an awful pastor, because I never know what to say to people.

8. I don't know how to pray.

9. I am ashamed because I deliver furniture for a living.

10. I thought at this point in my life, I'd have a career.

11. I call myself a philosopher/theologian, but I wince every time because I really believe that I am a terrible philosopher, and I know so many theologians who do what they do much better than me, I often wonder why I would bother trying to be a part of anything. I am constantly tempted to become nothing more than an observer.

12. I wish this list wasn't so sad, and I know I could write a bunch of positive things, but this list is a list of confessions, and so I will give one confession that offsets all of these other things.

13. My union with Christ, which I have by faith, is my guarantee that it doesn't matter if I'm a faker, a tool, a bad pastor, a bad small talker, careerless, prayerless, ashamed, squirmy, or a second rate philosopher/theologian. Without Jesus, all the things on this list would be true, AND the sins/flaws would all be mine to bear. I am so glad that the Gospel means I can be a loser deep down.

King and Servant Show 24

Blubrry player!

Jonathan discusses Trinitarian theology and its application to Christian living; with specific focus on how other theistic views fall short of accounting for the one and the many in human experience.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Free Sinclair Ferguson Book on Kindle - Today Only

For a very limited time (probably only until midnight tonight) By Grace Alone: How God's Grace Amazes Me by Sinclair Ferguson is available for the Kindle, for free. Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can get the book and read it using one of Amazon's free Kindle reading apps.
In By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me, Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson laments that "we have lost the joy and energy that is experienced when grace seems truly ‘amazing.'" In an effort to restore the wonder of divine grace, he reflects on it from seven angles, each built around a stanza from a rich but little-known hymn, "O How the Grace of God Amazes Me," written by Emmanuel T. Sibomana, a pastor in the African nation of Burundi.
Another book that is free today, for those interested, is Beer Is Proof God Loves Us: Reaching for the Soul of Beer and Brewing. I haven't read it yet, so I'm not necessarily endorsing it, but I'm looking forward to reading it once I find the time.

A Change of Heart for Belle & Sebastian

My first exposure to Belle & Sebastian was their song 'If You're Feeling Sinister,' where lead singer Stuart Murdoch speaks about how irrelevant the church is to young people. Here are a few excerpts from the song's lyrics:
Hilary went to the Catholic Church because she wanted information
The vicar, or whatever, took her to one side and gave her confirmation
Saint Theresa's calling her, the church up on the hill is looking lovely
But it doesn't interest, the only things she wants to know is
How and why and when and where to go
How and why and when and where to follow
The song concludes:
But if you are feeling sinister
Go off and see a minister
Chances are you'll probably feel better
If you stayed and played with yourself
Needless to say, Murdoch portrayed the Catholic church in a not-so-flattering light. This song, in fact, caused me to think of B&S as a pretty godless band. More recently, however, NPR did an interview with Stuart Murdoch *where they asked him about the seeming lack of faith in 'If You're Feeling Sinister.' Murdoch responded:
Yes, a startling lack of faith. When I wrote that song, I was writing from the perspective of somebody who was trying to work things out. Put it this way, I was like a young, fairly hip, 19 or 20-year-old punk who was knocking about Glasgow. But I went to church. I didn’t see any other hipsters or punks at church, so I was maybe kind of writing about the folks that I knew, and my friends. And perhaps, sort of rightly so, I could see why there might be this wall, this divide between them and the church.
In 2004, Stuart Murdoch did an interview where he discussed his interest in attending church:
I'm not actually a Christian with a capital C. I'm still asking questions. But I had this time when I found myself singing all these old hymns in my kitchen and I couldn't work out why I was doing it. Then one Sunday morning I got up, looked at my watch, and thought, 'I wonder if I could make it to a church service?' It was so welcoming. It just felt like you were coming home. Twelve years later, I've never left.
In the more recent NPR interview, Murdoch then talks about how he now goes to church on a regular basis and has grown considerably less cynical:
I slipped quite easily into it and it’s a thing that’s never left me. And if you have a thing in your life, which is quiet obviously the biggest thing thats happening, you can’t stop thinking about it. And you really shouldn’t stop talking about it. Else, you know, we’re not in Communist Russia in the ’70s, you know...You know, I want to talk about the things that I’m feeling. And if I have a force working inside me and something I think about on an hourly basis, then that’s what I’m going to write about.
In a fine contrast, the new album from Belle & Sebastian (which you can listen to at NPR for free until tomorrow when the album is actually released) titled Write About Love has quite a few songs which portray a positive vision of God. I'm not saying that Stuart is a Reformed born again believer, but it is very encouraging to see people I once thought of as godless pagans surprising me. One song, in particular, is called "Ghost of Rockschool":
I’ve seen God in the sun
I’ve seen God in the street
God before bed and the promise of sleep
God in my dreams and the free ride of grace
Master I love from the ground above
There’s the stars below as my memory flows
Every picture frame is beating louder than time
Every clock in the hall is bending slowly
come on I insist have a drink have a sit in the bar
tell me all about your man and your hopes and the flaws of your life

you could love
after all that’s what you’re looking for
you can love
it’s a currency unspoken heart
but it’s hard to form a good opinion
if you’re gonna look at me that way
and it’s gonna cause a crisis
might just lose a little faith
don’t touch me
if you touch me, you could never go back

come on I insist have a drink have a sit in the bar
tell me all about your man and your hopes and the flaws of your life

*Many thanks to Mollie from 'Get Religion' for bringing the interview to my attention.

Lecrae "Background" Video

Off of Lecrae's new album, Rehab.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Was the Strong Man 'Bound' or Was He 'Overcome'?

In a friendly debate with a co-worker, I was prepared to slam-dunk him in a discussion of the Millennium in Revelation 20 - particularly the statement in 20:2 that Satan, in the millennium, was bound for a thousand years. I was arguing that in the Gospels, Jesus literally says that Satan has already been bound. Knowing that Jesus says this in Matthew, Mark, and in Luke, I invited him to turn to any of the passages where Jesus says that the strong man has been bound. In the New King James, Matthew 12:29 reads:
Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
The parallel passage in Mark 3:27 reads:
No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.
Unfortunately for me, he chose the version in Luke 11:22, which, from v. 21, reads:
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.
One might initially be disturbed that each version varies slightly, but especially by the fact that Luke's version of the passage uses the word "overcome" instead of the word "bind."

We should be fully aware that given the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration, we allow for the personalities of the writers to influence their recordings of Jesus' teachings. As the Chicago Statement says:
WE AFFIRM that God in His work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.
What then, are we to think of the Matthew/Mark (hereafter 'MM') rendering in comparison to the Lukan rendering of the teaching? MM appears to teach that Satan has been bound, in some sort of long-term sense (which certainly, prima facie appears to serve my own Amill leanings). But Luke appears to teach that the strong man has been 'overcome,' which my debating partner believed to indicate a less 'permanent' sort of fate for the strong man (a momentary victory, as it were). Initially, I conceded that it appeared to be so, but after looking at the range of meanings, I have changed my tune.

As you may have noticed, MM have Jesus saying that the strong man has been 'bound' (Gk. 'daesae'), which is from 'deo' and is generally translated 'bind, tie,' but it is sometimes used to refer to someone's arrest or imprisonment.

Luke, however, records Jesus as saying that the strong man has been 'overcome.' The Greek word here is 'nikaesae'. The lexical form of this Greek word is 'nikao,' which is translated, in different places, as 'be victor, prevail, conquer, overcome, or vanquish.'

The solution to this seeming discrepancy is to first remain consistent in employing the perspicuity of Scripture and acknowledging that both words ('daesae' and 'nikaesae') are complimentary. The strong man has not been bound to the exclusion of his having been overcome, nor is he overcome to the exclusion of his binding; this is not an either/or situation. As such, one might understand the Gospels collectively to be conveying Christ's idea in this way:
Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds in victory the strong man?
A similarly likely way of understanding it would be:
Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first overcomes and binds the strong man?
I am, of course, only helping to solve a perceived discrepancy, not to suggest an alternate translation. This should be obvious, I hope.

In either case, if the Amill claims that Satan has been bound and then appeals to this passage in MM, it would be a mistake to attempt to turn Luke's rendering of the passage against MM. It is not either 'overcome' or 'bind,' but it is rather, both.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lets Admit that Calvinists Love Festschrifts

No sooner had I begun reading Richard Gaffin's festschrift Resurrection and Eschatology than I found out that John Frame had a festschrift titled Speaking the Truth in Love released on October 5th of last year. Weighing in at 1200 pages, this is the mother of all festschrifts! Then, I discovered that a couple of years ago, there was a festschrift in honor of Meredith Kline called Creator, Redeemer, Consummator

Moving on, of course, we have the new volume of essays released in honor of John Piper, For the Fame of God's Name. And then, within a week, a new volume in honor of Robert Godfrey was announced, and it is entititled Always Reformed.

I don't see any festschrifts in honor of Greg Boyd anywhere!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Who Is It That's Evil, Again?...

When I find irony, and it makes me laugh out loud, I share it with as many people as possible. In this case, we have a man named Adam Green, who directed a slasher movie a few years ago titled 'Hatchet.' He has also, now, made a sequel which has been creatively titled 'Hatchet II.' The first film went into theaters dramatically cut so that it could be rated R. Now, apparently, the director has decided to bypass the MPAA, which was set to give his film an NC-17 designation. Instead of bearing the dreaded rating, the film has been released into theaters in a super-disgusting unrated and uncut form. I say 'super-disgusting' because, out of curiosity, I watched the trailer only to discover that even the trailer for the film is uncut, and it is too horrible for me to even link to. Apparently, after running the movie in their theaters on a trial basis, AMC has decided to remove it from their theaters.

Now, here is what I find hilariously ironic. The director has become self-righteous in his condemnation of the MPAA, and actually claimed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that "[The MPAA] are a very big and powerful — even though they’re evil — organization."

And here's what's hilarious: this is coming from a man who made a movie about a disfigured monstrosity who chases around teenagers with a belt-sander. A movie with decapitations galore, a movie with some of the most disgusting deaths that one could invent, and a movie that treats human beings - made in the image of God - like they are cattle. He is an absolutely picturesque illustration of Paul's words when he says of the wicked, "[They are] inventors of evil things." It is beyond laughable and also terrifying that the term 'evil' can be so malleably twisted. That someone like Green could possibly think it is acceptable to twist and misuse such a meaningful word simply to describe someone who gets in his way or prevents him from having what he wants is far short any known definition of evil. If the MPAA is 'evil' for favoring studio films over independent films, then what does that make Green for making such a wretched piece of depravity?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Steaky's! Same Great Name; Different Food That You Don't Expect!

We here at Bring the Books consider ourselves entrepreneurs. Believe it or not, this blog is a highly lucrative enterprise, generating literally dozens of dollars a month in bookstore credits at the Westminster Bookstore. We have now been presented with an opportunity to convert our bookstore credits into real money and invest in a tempting new business enterprise.

Many of you might remember the old fast food place, Steaky's. They were known for making sirloin steak burgers. Recently, they came under new management, and we received an offer from their main office to purchase a Steaky's franchise. These are difficult decisions, and so we decided to share the franchise pitch with all of you so we could get your opinion. Somehow, this just doesn't feel like the same old Steaky's that I remember...
Potential franchisee, congratulations! You are part of the elite group of people who are being invited to join us as investors in a tremendous business enterprise, carrying on the proud Steaky's name. There have been many questions about some of our more recent changes with Steaky's, and we want to take the opportunity to address those investor concerns.

For starters, many are concerned that with the new management, the name Steaky's has been rendered somewhat meaningless. As the argument goes, with a name like Steaky's, we should still serve the same food that everyone remembers. However, our decision to move from delicious, succulent, never frozen sirloin steak burgers to slightly dry, 0% beef 'Boka Burgers' is a very small change.

Yes, our previous customers knew what they were getting with a name like Steaky's, but we are going to address this problem with our new slogan: "Same great name, different food that you don't expect!" We think this is very catchy and will bring in handfuls of vegans from all over the countryside!

Many of our shareholders have asked why we don't simply change the name instead of taking over the old Steaky's name. There's a simple answer to that; Steaky's has a built in customer base that we have always wanted to belong to. If we changed the name to something more befitting our menu, we would almost certainly become unpopular in but a moment. It is much easier to slip in under peoples' radar by redefining the meaning of Steaky's than to be honest with people about what we are. Steaky's is an exclusive club, and we want to become part of it, even if it does require dishonesty and rendering the Steaky's name completely meaningless.

There are some people who have a problem with changing the definition of a 'restaurant' while keeping the name the same, but we know that you'll agree and look forward to our happy future together as we partner into this somewhat deceptive enterprise, selling 'Boka Burgers' to unsuspecting carnivores everywhere.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Evangelical without Inerrancy?

Daniel Kirk just posted a blog where he argues, among other things, that someone can be an Evangelical and not hold to inerrancy. After reading his post a few things struck me.

First, Kirk never defines what he means by inerrancy. Although at times he does put scare quotes around this theologically loaded term, he never tells us exactly what it is. Granting that there are many views out there in the theological landscape that call themselves inerrancy, which I would not agree with. But it still remains unclear which "version" of inerrancy Kirk is saying a person can deny and still be an Evangelical. Perhaps he intends to address any and all views that go by the term. However, to be intellectually rigorous, one would hope he is referring to the view set forth in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which goes to lengths to clarify what inerrancy means, and especially what it does not mean.

Second, Kirk argues that the Bible does not teach inerrancy.
We believe this because of our commitment to scripture itself. Investigation of scripture will often, to many of us, provide indications that an “inerrant” Bible is not the way that God has chosen to speak to humanity. This is part of the good news because it means that we do not have to set aside the labors of critical scholarship to affirm that the Bible is the word of God in which the good news is articulated.
Again, we are left scratching our heads wondering what exactly it is that the Bible does not teach. But even more, this way of defining a movement seems somewhat problematic. Why does Kirk get to define what the movement known as Evangelicalism stands for? For example, the Evangelical Theological Society has a very short doctrinal basis, which includes a commitment to inerrancy. This seems to be a much better way of defining a movement. Allow the movement as a whole to define itself.

This argument by Kirk is akin to an Arian claiming they are Christian because of their commitment to the Bible, which does not teach the deity of Christ. Does is not seem proper to allow the Church in her confessions and creeds to define what it means to be a Christian? Even if a large number of people who claim to be Evangelical agree with Kirk, it is still best to allow the movement to define itself. Kirk's inviting himself into a redefined Evangelicalism is similar to the cafe which comes under different ownership. Whereas before they made a mean steak and potatoes, now all that they offer in the way of meat is 'Bocca Burgers.' Nothing against Bocca Burgers, it's just not the same cafe that it used to be. Sure the name is the same, but isn't the name meaningless if the management suddenly starts serving food only for herbivores? Especially, if the cafe is called "Steaky's"

Kirk is free to deny inerrancy by saying, "It is a response to the Bible that has shown itself to be something other than inerrant–with a faithful confession that God has chosen just this sort of book through which to reveal himself." But please, do not take it upon yourself to redefine a whole movement so that you can now be seen as fitting within its freshly redrawn boundaries. If Evangelical means anything, it means that a person is committed to the idea that "the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Calvin's Duplex Gratia Deus: No Justification Without Holiness

"But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30; NASB).
According to Lane Tipton, this is Calvin's favorite verse regarding the issue of union with Christ. I decided, based on this comment, to take a look at Calvin's actual commentary on the verse, and I did not come away disappointed. In these verses, Calvin sees with clarity the functions which Christ fulfills when we stand in union with him. Calvin sees here a duplex gratia Deus (a twofold blessing of God) which one receives when brought into union with Him. By being placed into Christ by God's doing, Paul says, Christ becomes to us wisdom, expressed through his becoming to us justification and sanctification. Regarding Paul's statement that by union with Christ, he becomes to us righteousness:
[H]e says that he is made unto us righteousness, by which he means that we are on his account acceptable to God, inasmuch as he expiated our sins by his death, and his obedience is imputed to us for righteousness. For as the righteousness of faith consists in remission of sins and a gracious acceptance, we obtain both through Christ.
Calvin then comments on his statement that through union, Christ becomes for us sanctification:
he calls him our sanctification, by which he means, that we who are otherwise unholy by nature, are by his Spirit renewed unto holiness, that we may serve God. From this, also, we infer, that we cannot be justified freely through faith alone without at the same time living holily. For these fruits of grace are connected together, as it were, by an indissoluble tie, so that he who attempts to sever them does in a manner tear Christ in pieces. Let therefore the man who seeks to be justified through Christ, by God's unmerited goodness, consider that this cannot be attained without his taking him at the same time for sanctification, or, in other words, being renewed to innocence and purity of life.
We then see that Calvin most clearly believes this to be a 'checkmate' against the charge of Rome that our understanding of justification is a "legal fiction" as well as the charge of anti-nomianism.
Those, however, that slander us, as if by preaching a free justification through faith we called men off from good works, are amply refuted from this passage, which intimates that faith apprehends in Christ regeneration equally with forgiveness of sins.
Lest any accuse Calvin of bringing together justification and sanctification:
Observe, on the other hand, that these two offices of Christ are conjoined in such a manner as to be, notwithstanding, distinguished from each other.
So for Calvin, there is no separating justification and sanctification, but there is also no confusing the two, either. They are distinct works, and they always will be.

Finally, we see that we don't need to take Lane Tipton's word for it that this is Calvin's favorite verse regarding this subject, because he tells us himself:
In fine, of all the blessings that are here enumerated we must seek in Christ not the half, or merely a part, but the entire completion. For Paul does not say that he has been given to us by way of filling up, or eking out righteousness, holiness, wisdom, and redemption, but assigns to him exclusively the entire accomplishment of the whole. Now as you will scarcely meet with another passage of Scripture that more distinctly marks out all the offices of Christ, you may also understand from it very clearly the nature and efficacy of faith. For as Christ is the proper object of faith, every one that knows what are the benefits that Christ confers upon us is at the same time taught to understand what faith is.
For myself, as I have spent the last several days studying the doctrine of union with Christ as expounded by Calvin, I can't help but sense my focus shift from the doctrine of justification to the person of Jesus Christ himself in a greater degree. Whereas before, I held a more Lutheran understanding of justification, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that if, in fact, justification is the entire story, then our focus becomes the doctrine which gives root to all the benefits of salvation. In the Reformed understanding as I see now that Calvin taught it, our focus is on a person, and all the gifts that we enjoy result from our union by faith in Him. In that respect, I see tremendous pastoral benefits related to better understanding the nature of the Christian's union with Christ.