christianity theology

The New Calvinism | TIME

Time has added “New Calvinism” to its top 10 ideas changing the world right now.

Although the article leaves a bit to be desired in how it paints the basic foundations of the Reformed faith, it highlights the growing influence in Evangelicalism that the Doctrines of Grace are having.

As a person transformed by these great doctrines, and as a minister in a church body who teaches these doctrines, I pray that sound biblical teaching would continue to grow in influence in the Church.

Check out the Time Article here.


Deep Thoughts from Graeme Goldsworthy

This may be the single most awesome paragraph I have read in a long while from a sheer depth of thought.

So, the long and the short of it all is that somehow the biblical theologian and the dogmatic theologian are both confronted with the same unavoidable “chicken and egg” dilemma of the question of priority? Is priority in God as the source of reality; in Jesus as the mediator of the knowledge of God; in Scripture as our only source of God’s inspired testimony to Jesus; or in the Holy Spirit’s enabling of the once incapacitated human mind and spirit to know the truth? The answer is clearly, “yes; all of the above.” Thus we can make the distinction between the ontological priority of the Trinity, the hermeneutical priority of the incarnate Christ, the material priority of the Scriptures, and the epistemological priority of the Spirit’s inner testimony to the regenerated heart of man. These all coinhere, are interdependent, and relate in the hermeneutical spiral. This interdependence is no greater a burden on our subjective knowing than is the coinherence of the three persons of the Trinity, or the coinherence of the divine and human natures of Christ, or of the divine and human natures of Scripture, or of the relationship of the divine Spirit’s indwelling of the believer and our own humanity. Not only is it no greater burden, it is also of the same importance.

via The Ontological and Systematic Roots of Biblical Theology – Graeme Goldsworthy.


The Ontological and Systematic Roots of Biblical Theology

As our small group has been studying through Systematic Theology together (this is round 3 of me teaching), some new thoughts have arisen as I consider doctrines.  One that was particularly interesting was the result of teaching revelation, and having a very significant thought that related to this quote, which captures the challenging portion of the doctrine of revelation very succinctly.

The biblical theologian who accepts the canonical coherence of the source documents has already made a dogmatic assumption, or a whole series of them, about the nature of the biblical canon. This is only to say that our doctrine of Scripture is itself drawn from Scripture. If we then recognise that the Bible causes us to reckon with its testimony to the ontological Trinity as the ultimate source of all reality, including the canon, we might feel justified in an arrangement that starts with dogma concerning God (the objective). Yet it is we (the subjective element) who are contemplating this objective. In the final analysis, whether we view this from the perspective of biblical theology or the perspective of dogmatics, we find that the relationship of the subjective and objective is always before us.

via The Ontological and Systematic Roots of Biblical Theology – Graeme Goldsworthy.

When you return to the ultimate question about revelation, and the fact that it is a question of the relation of a subjective experience of the believer to an objective truth, we seem to forget that God is both objective AND subjective.  This is the result of both the perfection of His being and His personhood.

God’s ontological perfection is indeed His objective nature, but He is not merely a concept to be objectified; He is a personal being who relates to us, and therefore transcends the objective/subjective divide through reaching down, not us reaching up.

Perhaps this is an oversimplification of a very deep philosophical problem, but I think far too often in our philosophical challenges with our doctrines we forget the fundamentally relational nature of our God.


Scriptural Election: The Third Way

I found this article as I was preparing for my teaching on the doctrines of salvation, and particularly on election.  The quote below is very insightful

Thesis 23: We must affirm that God creates what he elects rather than that he selects out of what exists.

Israel is called into existence. Election is tied to promise and the seed of Israel is not the product of selection but of creation. God created what he elected. Election is the creation of something out of its opposite—possibility out of impossibility. It is a matter of creation rather than a parallel to rejection.

The focus in our doctrine of election, therefore, must not be on selection. Election is a creative act. In biblical thought Israel, Christ, and the Church are not “existing realities that God selectively chooses out of a number of extant Israels, Christs, or churches. . . . They are created by the dynamics of election, for they are what they are only by virtue of their election.”

via Scriptural Election: The Third Way.

The thought that election is out of God’s creative, life-giving power is an excellent one, and a great demonstration of why I cherish the doctrine.  In election, He is calling the dead to life, not sifting based on some selection criteria.  This helped me to articulate a good defense to those who see election as mechanical and deterministic, and ultimately cold and unfair.

assimilation books church theology

Consumerism and the Church

A great quote from David Wells:

Churches which preserve their cognitive identity and distinction from the culture will flourish: those who lose them in the interests of seeking success will disappear.

In our churches we may have made a deal with postmodern consumers but the hard reality is that Christianity cannot be bought. Purchase, in the world of consumption, leads to ownership but in the Church this cannot happen. It is never God who is owned. It is we who are owned in Christ. Christianity is not up for sale. Its price has already been fixed and that price is the complete and ongoing surrender to Christ of those who embrace him by faith. It can only be had on his own terms. It can only be had as a whole. It refuses to offer only selections of its teachings. Furthermore, the Church is not its retailing outlet. Its preachers are not its peddlers and those who are Christian are not its consumers. It cannot legitimately be had as a bargain though the marketplace is full of bargainhunters.

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s Word…” II Cor 2:17

No, let us think instead of the Church as its voice of proclamation, not its sales agent, its practitioner, not its marketing firm. And in that proclamation there is inevitable cultural confrontation. More precisely, there is the confrontation between Christ, in and through the biblical Word, and the rebellion of the human heart. This is confrontation of those whose face is that of a particular culture but whose heart is that of the fallen world. We cannot forget that.

David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World, pg. 308-309

HT: Reformation Theology