Saturday, October 31, 2009

Christians and Halloween

Should we dress up and go trick-or-treating? Should we go to the fall festival? Should we try to Christianize a haunted house with a "Judgment House" in order to try and scare the "Hell" out of unbelievers? Halloween is one of those days that many Christians just don't know what to do with.

So how should Christians think about Halloween? Sean Lucas, the senior minister at First Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS, provides some very helpful wisdom and clear biblical thinking on the question over at his blog. He provides six observations that help one in thinking through the question. He concludes:
Finally, the general principle of 1 Corinthians 10:31-32 rules all Christian behavior: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God.” We often think of the first part of this general principle, but not the latter; and yet, they must stay together. If we can participate in Halloween activities to God’s glory and not cause offense to unbelievers or believers, then we should participate freely without concern. For we know that Halloween is nothing and that idols are nothing, but that God has triumphed over all things in Christ, granting us freedom as sons and daughters of God.
Read the entire post here.

Happy Halloween, maybe!

[HT: Mark Garcia]

The Art of Manliness: My Tribute to My "Papaw," Mason "Junior" French

For the past few weeks I have had a lot of fun and have really enjoyed reading the articles over at The Art of Manliness, a blog that is dedicated to "recovering the lost art of being a man." Now, before you ladies start rolling your eyes (like my wife Christy did), the blog is authored by a husband and wife team--so this is not men being left to themselves to digress into regaling tales of machismo. Rather, this site is about helping men grow up and become more responsible, to be "better husbands, better fathers, better men." Brett Mckay notes that he got tired of reading Men's Health magazine because all they seemed to write about was sex and how to get six-pack abs. He also noted that there seemed to be a feminization to men, as well. Therefore, he saw a need for men to talk and learn about honorable manliness, to rediscover the "confidence, focus, skills, and virtues that men of the past had embodied and were a little lost." The blog has articles covering areas such as "Dress & Grooming," "Manly Skills," "Money & Career," "Relationships & Family," and of course "Health & Sports."

I have enjoyed The Art of Manliness so much, that I joined their group on Facebook. My wife Christy's response was, "I don't like the sound of this." So I am writing not only to promote a good site, but more importantly, to allay my wife's fears and explain why I have enjoyed it so much. And the answer is quite simple: it reminds me a lot of my grandfather who died when I was in the seventh grade. As I have grown up without him, I have always looked back at him as a paradigm of honorable manliness, and when I read the articles, it is as if they are able to take me back to him and bring my memories into clearer focus of a man I long to emulate. And I am not just talking about something obvious like when I read the post on How to Shave Like Your Grandpa. No, I'm talking about the less obvious ones that remind me of the man himself--who he was, what he liked, what he did, how he dressed, how he smelled.

As I read the article on the 15 Manlinest Smells in the World, I could smell his Old Spice, Brylcream, and his recliner that you could only sit in if he wasn't home. As I read the article on the importance of a Good Boot, I was reminded of his dress boots that zipped up the side, which he wore to church every Sunday and that I thought were so cool and swore I would own some day--dress shoes you could wear to church that were boots! When I read about how Every Man Should Carry a Pocket Knife, I was reminded of how his brown jigged bone case knife would emerge in a moment's notice to expedite some assignment and then disappear just as quickly back into his pocket. And in the other pocket? From there, a white handkerchief would often materialize for sundry tasks, which I learned was also something A Man Should Always Carry. (*Update: I wrote this post this morning, including the detailed description of the knife. This evening at dinner I was talking with my Dad and I didn't know it, but he had a knife that Papaw gave him. We found it and it is the one that I remembered as a child, which you see in the picture to the left. When we looked it up by the blade number and markings, we discovered that it is not a brown jigged bone case knife, but a brown imitation jigged bone medium, or junior, stockman case knife and was manufactured between 1965-69.)

**Update #2: After my Mom and Dad read this post, they filled me in on the history of this knife. When I was about 9, Papaw and Dad were working on something in the kitchen and they needed to cut something. Dad told Papaw that he didn't have a knife, so Papaw took this one above out of his pocket and took care of the cut. But after making the cut, he started to put the knife back in his pocket but stopped, looked at Dad and said, "Here, you keep it; every man ought to have a pocket knife." This transfer of the pocket knife affected my mother deeply, for she knew that a pocket knife was something personal and intimate, especially to her father. She knew that for Papaw to give that knife to my father was his way of embracing my father as a son.

Well, as of tonight, this knife begins a new stage in its history. Dad gave the knife to me! In the article Every Man Should Carry a Pocket Knife, the McKay's say:
The best pocket knifes to have are the ones with a sense of history. I carry around a pocket knife that my father gave to me. . . . It’s something tangible that reminds me of my father. One day I hope to pass it down to my son. So ask your dad if he has an old pocket knife that he can give to you. I’m sure he’ll be happy to pass it along.
They go on to mention honor of getting a knife from not only your Dad but even your Grandpa. Tonight, I am doubly honored. How exciting it is to have received my Papaw's knife that I remember as a child, that he gave to my Dad because "every man ought to have a knife," that my Dad has now passed on to me.

When I watched the videos on 7 Basic Knots Every Man Should Know and when I read about the 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox, I was reminded of all the hours I spent with him watching him work, especially the countless hours in his garage watching him wield his tools like a medieval knight; I would observe him, mesmerized by his ability to fix anything and everything. There was nothing he couldn't do, it seemed. When I read about How To Buy Your First Motorcycle, I was reminded of his love for "cycles" (pronounced as "sickles"). He always owned at least one and often several. I would sneak out into the garage and look at them, and touch them and then eventually climb on and imagine myself winning some great race or pretend that I was a motorcycle cop like on the television show "ChiPs." Then came that glorious day, I was around 1o years old, when he came in and found me on his dirt bike. When he saw what I was doing he just smiled and asked me if I wanted to ride it for real. My "papaw" taught me how to ride a motorcycle that day.

I recently read about how to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee, which reminded me of how he always seemed to be fragranced with the aroma of coffee--probably because he always seemed to have his thermos of coffee with him. Just a couple of years ago, my grandmother shared with me that I reminded her of my grandfather with my coffee habits. She said that I hold my coffee like he did, and that he preferred it black like I do. She shared a story about how they were on a trip one time and stopped at a diner to get some coffee. My grandfather told the waitress that he wanted a black cup of coffee, to which the waitress informed him that all of their mugs were white. Then my grandmother shared a most interesting bit of trivia. When she was pouring me a cup, I asked her to only fill it half way. This request caused her to pause for a moment, at which time my mother and aunt Gloria also stopped what they were doing and stared at me. After a brief moment of silence, I was asked why. I told them that I prefer to drink my coffee half a mug at a time so that its always hot. My grandmother became extremely tickled at this while my mom and aunt Gloria looked at me almost stunned. Not understanding their reactions, I asked what was going on. My grandmother looked at me and told me that my Papaw preferred his the exact same way and for the same reason. My mother later shared with me that while growing up, it was just a given that you never brought Papaw a full cup of coffee and that she had never known anyone else who liked their coffee that way.

There is so much more that I could say. For example about how when I read about Becoming a Man and read about selflessness, consistency and humility, I was reminded of how when we would visit them, he would come home everyday from his construction job and give me his Star Crunch snack that he would save for me. And how when I was a boy and asked him why he had to go to work instead of playing with me, he said, "Papaw has to go to work so I can buy you some Ho Ho's."

And you know, there is also value to the obvious articles like the one I mentioned earlier on How to Shave Like Your Grandpa. Reading this article did remind me of one of the most significant days of my life with him. For many, they say that the first shave begins a boy's right of passage into manhood. Now, my Papaw did not help me to learn to shave, but he did play a major role in my initiation to shaving manhood. You see, the first time I shaved was the day of his funeral--I was a pallbearer and I wanted to look my best for him. The irony for me at the time was that on the day I was becoming a man, I cried a great deal. And I still cry at times when I think about him and how I miss him very much; in fact, I have cried several times as I have written this post. But as I've since learned, this apparently is a time When Its Okay for a Man to Cry.

The point is, there is a lot of good material, which does more than just provide helpful tips on how to "man up," it helps to bring into focus a lot of good memories. My grandfather was a godly man of courage and conviction, he was hard working and loyal, he was self-sacrificing and resilient, he was a patriot who served his country in war, and yet, he was also a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather. Mason "Junior" French was the paragon of the Art of Manliness. Maybe, just maybe, if I continue to read, I will continue to remember him, and I will mature in the lost art of manliness.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Westminister Shorter Catechism Audio 1-10

O.k., so I am going to try something new here and begin a podcast. I am going to begin with a series of audio recordings of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I personally would like to have them in audio format to listen to while riding my bike or on the treadmill; plus, I know that some people just learn better audibly. Also, as my friend Mark reminded me, this could also be quite helpful for the visually impaired. So, I am going to broadcast them ten questions at a time.

This tool can be used to learn the Shorter Catechism for the first time, or for simply reviewing it to keep it fresh. There will be three basic ways to listen to the recordings. First, you can listen to the audio file here on the blog. But when you follow the link, it will take you away from the blog and you will not be able to read the text.

Second, if you want to be able to read the text while you listen, then the best option is to subscribe to the blog using a RSS reader, such as Google Reader. The easiest way to take advantage of this option is to look in the right hand pane at the "Blog Updates" section and click on "Subscribe in a Reader." You will find many different readers to choose from; for Google Reader, simply select the "Google" option, and then pick if you want it to go to your Google Home page or Google Reader.

Third, if you would like to listen to them on your iPod, then you can subscribe to the podcast through the iTunes store. The easiest way to do this is to go here and subscribe. You can also go into your iTunes and select "Advanced" at the top; then select "Subscribe to Podcast" and paste this URL: http://apilgrimsredress.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default. Or you can simply go to the iTunes store and do a search on "A Pilgrim's Redress."

Here we go!

Listen to Questions 1-10

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Q. 3. What do the scriptures principally teach?
A. The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Q. 9. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is God's making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

Q. 10. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Questions 11-2o

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Greg Beale - From Symbolism to Significance: The Book of Revelation

Greg Beale has done much in shaping my understanding of hermeneutics, exegesis and Biblical Theology. Last year when I preached the the oracles to the seven churches in Revelation, Beale's commentary was a primary source. Beale is the Chair of Biblical Studies and Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School and will soon be leaving to become Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Although I do not agree with everything that Beale says, I am indebted to his work.

A couple of years ago, Beale gave a five message series on Revelation looking specifically at how to understand the symbolism of Revelation while looking at some of its major biblical-theological themes:
This five message series is a very helpful introduction.Beale has an amazing ability to dig deep into the text and the scripture as a whole to unearth some large gold nuggets of insight, and yet, he is quite gifted to clearly communicate what he finds so that the average layperson can easily follow. If you are looking for help in learning how to approach the Book of Revelation correctly, then sit back and learn from Dr. Beale. It will change how you understand the Book of Revelation and the whole scripture.

If you like what you hear, then you can pursue the subjects further in some of Beale's recent books:
If from listening to Beale you become interested in his approach to hermeneutics, exegesis an biblical theology, then you can read these books edited by Beale:
If you are interested in further resources by Beale, then you must see the list compiled by my friend James Grant over at his blog In Light of the Gospel. His is the most complete compilation I have seen so far.

[HT: Monergism]

Amillennialism 101 *Updated*

**Update**
I originally posted this back on October 17. Well I just saw over at Monergismbooks.com, "With the generous permission of Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, Monergism is giving away for free this incredible CD of his lectures and sermons. This mp3 CD includes Riddlebarger's 16-part lecture series on Amillennialism 101 as well as his 32-part sermon series on the book of Revelation. This CD will be mailed directly and we only ask that you cover the cost of shipping." Check it out.

* * * * * *
A friend of mine just finished this book by Kim Riddlebarger, which makes a really good case for the Amillennial understanding of eschatology. If you have watched the video I posted of "An Evening of Eschatology" the Amillennial position was not communicated very well (in my opinion--I think part of that had to do with the forum--round table discussions are not great for really digging in to a subject).

In light of Lisa's reminder of the book and the recent interest in eschatology, I thought I would make you aware of some helpful audio lectures by Kim Riddlebarger on the topic titled "Amillennialism 101." The lectures are available in both MP3 and Streaming formats at The Riddleblog and his church's website (Christ Reformed Church). I am also going to post them here for easy access.

Amillennialism 101 -- Audio Resources

Reaching the Next Generation

Any pastor or church member at some time or another has thought about church growth and the future of their particular congregation, especially when the growth is slow or even nonexistent. Kevin DeYoung over at DeYoung, Restless and Reformed shares his thoughts on this issue:
But in my saner moments I’ve come to see two things: One, it’s more my sin that wants success than my sanctification. And two, the secret is that there is no secret. Reaching the next generation—whether they are outside the church or sitting there bored in your church—is easier and harder than you think. It’s easier because you don’t have to get a degree in postmodern literary theory or go to a bunch of stupid movies. You don’t have to say “sweet” or “bling” ” or know what LOL or IMHO means. You don’t have to listen to…well, whatever people listen to these days. You don’t have to be on twitter, watch The Office, or imbibe fancy coffees. You just have to be like Jesus. That’s it. So the easy part is you don’t have to be with it. The hard part is you have to be with Him. If you walk with God and walk with people, you’ll reach the next generation.
What DeYoung reminds us of is that serving God is about faithfulness to what God has called us to be and do in Christ, while trusting that God will fulfill his promises to build his church. But DeYoung does not leave us with a generic "be faithful;" instead, he provides five specific suggestions for us to pursue: Grab them with passion. Win them with love. Hold them with holiness. Challenge them with truth. Amaze them with God.

DeYoung works these five suggestions out in five posts:
Although he directs these suggestions for reaching the "Next Generation," the suggestions are apt for reaching out to persons of all ages. Give them a read if you are looking for some specific ways to be faithful to the calling with which we have been called.

The Kingdom of God and the Church--An Outline

Much has been said in the last century and a half concerning the relationship of the Kingdom of God and the Church. Some have questioned if the Church is related to the Kingdom of God at all insisting that it was a sociological development by the apostles as a means of maintaining their control after Jesus' death. Others have suggested that the kingdom is totally future and that the Church is merely a temporary phenomenon until God's Kingdom program starts back up. Others have postulated that the kingdom is so present today that it should become become political and transform society (a Christian utopia if you will).

Given the importance that it plays in the teaching of the Bible and Jesus and the abuses that have occurred because of misunderstanding, we need some clarity. Geerhardus Vos provides this in his fine study on the Kingdom of God and the Church. Vos presents a thorough, yet, accessible treatment from a redemptive-historical perspective looking at it from just about every possible angle.

Well, making this book even more accessible, there is a great new resource for helping the reader grasp Vos' argument. Over at Twenty-First Century Tabletalk, Michael Lynch has posted a full outline of the book. With the outline he helps walk the reader through not only the material, but the argument, including helpful quotes along the way.

If you want to read it but not spend any money, then you can read it online for free at Google Books.

[HT: James Grant]

OPC, PCA, EPC, PCUSA: What's in a Name?

Over at Of Trout and Men, my friend and mentor Dan Knox has a helpful little synopsis answering an inquiry concerning the difference between the different Presbyterian denominations of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA).

The person posing the question to Dan did not include the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), but the PCA is quite similar to the OPC, so you can include the PCA with the OPC in that article.

But the OPC and PCA are still distinct. You can read of these distinctions in a helpful article by Peter Wallace. Wallace is uniquely qualified to answer this question given that he is an OPC pastor who has been serving a PCA congregation for over six years. As such, Wallace attends both Presbytery meetings for the OPC and PCA, as well as serves on the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations, where his duties have included serving as a fraternal delegate to the PCA General Assembly, as well as some face-to-face discussions with representatives of the PCA's Interchurch Relations Committee. Wallace provides a helpful, fair and balanced perspective that doesn't get caught up in the extremes.

You want to know the difference, then check out these articles.

Sermon on Psalm 24

In an earlier post, I made an exegetical paper on Psalm 24 available, since there seems to be a lot of interest on that psalm. Well, I seem to get a lot of traffic on that particular post, but often from persons looking for a sermon on Psalm 24. So, I have edited an old sermon that I did that was based on the exegetical work found in the paper.

So if you are interested, you can read my sermon on Psalm 24, Jesus Christ the King of Glory.

For those who are extra ambitious, you can listen to a sermon on Psalm 24 by Charlie Dennison (whom though I never met has shaped my preaching very much) who takes the psalm a little differently than I do. Read mine, listen to his and compare!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is "Unity" Worth The Price of Admission?

Here is part of what David Strain thinks,
I simply cannot see how else to say that we love the local church without also saying that we believe the local church should function this way and not that way. Let’s love the church enough to have a clear ecclesiology!

The one thing that is so urgently needed now is not another conference or another movement across denominational lines. What is really needed is a clear and unashamed articulation of robust, catholic, Reformed, ecclesiology.

Read the entire post here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Semper Reformanda: A Misunderstood and Misused Motto

In the previous post, I included a couple of paragraphs from a recent article by John Muether, "Calvin, American Calvinism, and the OPC." In the post, I quote two paragraphs that are concerned with the recent and popular notion that to maintain the Reformed motto semper reformanda (always reforming), that the church must constantly be open to change. But is this what the phrase means?

In this month's edition of Tabletalk, Michael Horton examines the orgin and true meaning of this misunderstood and misused motto. Here's a snippet:
This perspective keeps us from making tradition infallible but equally from imbibing the radical Protestant obsession with starting from scratch in every generation. When God’s Word is the source of our life, our ultimate loyalty is not to the past as such or to the present and the future, but to “that Word above all earthly pow’rs,” to borrow from Luther’s famous hymn. Neither behind us nor ahead of us, but above us, reigns our sovereign Lord over His body in all times and places. When we invoke the whole phrase — “the church Reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God” — we confess that we belong to the church and not simply to ourselves and that this church is always created and renewed by the Word of God rather than by the spirit of the age.
The article is quite helpful so check it out here.

Can We Maintain John Calvin's True Legacy?

There is a really good article in this month's New Horizons (denominational magazine for the OPC) about John Calvin. John Muether writes on "Calvin, American Calvinism, and the OPC." Muether talks about the recent popularity of Calvinism and the apparent resurgence of Calvinism among the "young, restless, and Reformed" crowd (see this previous post for more background). He asserts that even as B.B. Warfield, John Murray, and Cornelius Van Til taught in times past that Calvin would not have recognized many who have claimed to be his descendents, that once again, this would be the case for this new version of Calvinism as well.
So popular has New Calvinism become, especially among young adults, that its appeal threatens to dwarf the more publicized "emerging church" movement. As preferred as that outcome might be, zeal and enthusiasm do not a full-orbed Calvinist make. . . .'It's a new day in Calvinism . . . when Baptists and charismatics have become chief spokesmen.'
Muether proposes that "it seems that something less than [sic] a genuine rediscovery of the Reformed faith is happening in this quincentenary year." One cannot simply reduce or change a system of theology and maintain the integrity of the theology presumably being confessed. Muether writes:
Modifications of Calvinism are often promoted in the interest of semper reformanda (always reforming). To be sure, Calvin taught that the church must always be reformed according to the Word of God. But semper reformanda is no license for change for its own sake, much less a slogan for incessant innovation. Calvin himself on his deathbed warned his successor, Theodore Beza: "Beware of making changes and innovations, which were always dangerous and sometimes harmful."

We would do especially well to challenge popular claims, made in the supposed interest of semper reformanda, that submission to our primary standard (the Scriptures) must make us suspicious of our secondary standards (the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms). "Reformed" is defined by the historic Reformed confessions and cannot be redefined by every generation. We must respect the historic exegesis of the church, adopting a robust and fruitful "hermeneutics of submission," not the trendy "hermeneutics of suspicion."
Muether concludes with sage advice, "Calvin bequeathed to the church a gracious legacy that equips us to live faithfully in our own age. Orthodox Presbyterians who love the Reformed faith should accept no substitutes."

I would add that even though the context for Muether's article is the OPC, that the point is quite well made for a larger audience as well. Reformed theology is not a denominationally exclusive interpretation of scripture. Anyone belonging to any of the Reformed denominations in America (NAPARC--North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council) or across the world (ICRC--International Conference of Reformed Churches) should not accept any substitutes, no matter how seemingly popular and trendy. Let's not prove Mark Twain right when he sarcastically quipped, "Everybody's private motto: It's better to be popular than right."

Let's get Calvinism right since the ongoing spiritual health of the church is at stake. The historic tendency towards modification as well as the newest alteration calls the heirs of Calvin to be steadfast to "distinguish genuine Calvinism from its counterfeit forms," and to maintain Calvin's true legacy. It's not about trendiness, it's about faithfulness.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Are You a Certified Calvin Scholar? Take The Quiz and Find Out!

With this being the quincentenary celebration of the birth of John Calvin, the Calvin 500 Blog provides a great wealth of information covering Calvin's life and ministry. Well for fun, they have also put together this little quiz (only 10 questions) to test your Calvin knowledge. Take it and see how you do!


More about John Calvin at Calvin 500


[HT: Reformation Theology]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ravi Zacharias on Postmodernism and the Church's Mission

Ravi Zacharias recently spoke at the Henry Center at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Here are the links to the videos. My quote from Muggeridge in the previous post comes from the first lecture, which is quite informative while simultaneously refreshing.

[HT: Justin Taylor]

The Condition of Modern Man

Malcolm Muggeridge (as quoted by Ravi Zacharias):
It is difficult to resist the conclusion that twentieth century man has decided to abolish himself; tired of the struggle to be himself, he's created boredom out of his own affluence, impotence out of his own erotomania, and vulnerability out of his own strength. He himself blows the trumpet that brings the walls of his own cities crashing down, until at last having educated himself into imbecility, having drugged himself into stupefaction, he keels over a wearied old battered brontosaurus and becomes extinct.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dayton Reformation Conference with Darryl Hart

It's October and you know what that means, no not candy and Halloween, it's Reformation month. October 31, 2009 will mark 492 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Saxony (present day Germany), which helped to begin the Protestant Reformation.

On this October 31, Covenant Presbyterian Church in Dayton, OH will be hosting the twelfth annual Dayton Reformation Conference. The topic this year will be "From Evangelical to Emerging: Christianity in America," and the key note speaker will be Darryl Hart.

Check out the brochure for more information.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Church Visions and Purpose Statements

I am not a fan of how churches have adopted the business practice of developing "Visions" and "Purpose Statements." However, if you are going to have a "Vision" for your church, let it be like this one. In a post from today over at Letters from Mississippi, the pastor David Strain shares an address from this past Lord's Day when the Session had decided to hold a special meeting after morning worship to explain the Session's plan for the future and development of the congregation.

Strain's address can be summed up by quoting one line of it:
Perhaps the best, most graphic, clearest way for me to share the vision of Main Street Presbyterian Church with you, is to point you to the Bread and the Wine of the Lord’s Supper.
In describing the "Vision" that the Session has for the spiritual growth and nourishment of the congregation, the emphasis lands squarely on the faithful administration of the outward and ordinary means of grace.

If believing hearts find Christ in the preached word, the sacraments of baptism and communion and prayer, why would a church do anything else?

Why wouldn't a church partake of them every week?

An Evening of Eschatology

Here is a somewhat interesting round table discussion on the doctrine of last things, with particular emphasis on the different millennial positions. The discussion is led by John Piper; Jim Hamilton represents Premillennialism; Doug Wilson represents Postmillennialsim; Sam Storms represents Amillennialism. The discussion gets spirited at points, which makes it interesting. Although, I have to say that Jim Hamilton (with whom I attended Southern Seminary) is quite irritating at points in cutting off Storms and Wilson quite a bit, not hearing what Storms and Wilson say and putting forth some silly arguments. (Sorry if this biasses how you hear Jim.)

I was surprised to find Wilson as the most placid and demur of the three. I also quite appreciated the humility of Wilson and Storms in their closing statements.

It would have been nice if there had been a brief description of each one's hermeneutical commitments in approaching the topic.

I did walk away with one major question though, "WHY ON EARTH WAS SAM STORMS PRESENTING AMILLENNIALISM INSTEAD OF GREG BEALE?!!"

You can listen to it or watch it below.



[HT:Justin Taylor]

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What is the character of the Mosaic Covenant in the theology of Paul?

**Update**
This is a a re-post from 9.14.09 since this book is now available at Westminster Bookstore and is 34% off for only $13.19.

One of the things I use this blog for is for storing items that I find interesting online. There is a very interesting book that has just been published by Jason Meyer, The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology that explores the relationship of Pauline theology and the Mosaic Covenant. Two of the questions Meyer considers are 1) What does Paul mean by calling the Mosaic covenant old; and 2) What does Paul mean by referring to the new covenant as new.

There is a short, 3 question interview that Justin Taylor has done with Meyer about the book that you can read at Justin's blog, Between Two Worlds. Of particular interest to me is Meyer's purposeful use of Geerhardus Vos' redemptive-historical and eschatological theological method to explain the difference between "old" and "new":
[Vos] says that “the comprehensive antithesis of the First Adam and the Last Adam, sin and righteousness, the flesh and the Spirit, law and faith” are “precisely the historic reflections of the one great transcendental antithesis between this world and the world-to-come.” Paul contrasts the old and the new because the new age has come. This invasion of the age to come into the present evil age creates eschatological contrasts, (emphasis mine).
In the Introduction, which can be seen here along with the "Table of Contents," Meyer clearly sets forth his thesis,
Paul conceives of the Mosaic (old) covenant as fundamentally non-eschatological in contrast to the eschatological nature of the new covenant.
He goes on to say that,
Paul declares that the Mosaic covenant is now old because it belongs to the old age, whereas the new covenant is new because it belongs to the new eschatological age. . . . As the eschatological covenant, the new covenant consists of what one could call "eschatological intervention," while the old covenant does not. God intervenes through his Holy Spirit in the new eschatological age in order to create what he calls for in the new covenant. The Mosaic covenant lacked this power to produce what it commanded.
This book is Meyer's doctoral dissertation under Tom Schreiner at Southern Seminary. Given what I know from studying under Schreiner at Southern, this book should be top notch.

It interests me to see how Meyer as a Baptist will develop this thesis that hinges on a Vossian reading of the text, as it was my own Vossian reading of the text while at Southern that lead me to embrace infant baptism and shift from being a Baptist to being Presbyterian.