January 26, 2009

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

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In the last few years I have heard a few people cite a guy by the name of  Charles Finney as one of their own personal heroes and even a hero of the faith.  I didn't know much about the guys truthfully other than that he was an old-time revival preacher.  Well, I was doing some poking around on one of Phil Johnson's website today and came across an article about Finney.  Having read it, I am convinced that this man, whom many consider to be a hero of their faith, was at best an unbeliever, if not a devil in disguise.

January 12, 2009

Thanks be to God!!

Coming up on three weeks ago, I left my position as the Youth Pastor at a local church.  I have been looking for jobs and applying, but so far haven't gotten any call-backs so far (though I have received a call from one pastoral search committee, but am unsure what to do with it).   Anyway, this morning my wife and I sat down and looked at our budget and realized that if things go the way they are, we are going to fall a couple of hundred of dollars short of being able to make our bills this month.  We were lamenting this and getting depressed when I went in and checked my e-mail.  In my e-mail inbox was a message from my former pastor saying that they were going to be sending my final paycheck out soon and that I would be getting a final mileage reimbursement as well.  I had written these off because, according to my very limited knowledge of things, since I quit the church was under no obligation whatsoever to give me either.  With those coming in, we will actually have an excess (if you can call it that) of right around a hundred dollars for the month (if everything goes right).  So, THANKS BE TO GOD!!

That being said, I would ask that all pray for me and my family, that God would provide me with some way of providing for my family.  Also, I would ask that all be in prayer that God would give me guidance whether to continue on in the ministry at this juncture or just to find a good church and be discipled there as a member of the laity.

January 10, 2009

A thought that came to me today

I have been preparing my next blog post that I am writing for my series on Calvinism.  That post is going to be over the subject of sola Scriptura and essentially going to consist of an exposition of 2 Timothy 3:15-16.  While reading up so that I could write that post, I had an interesting thought: 'Can anyone but a Calvinist, or at least someone with a high view of the sovereignty of God, truly believe in a fully inspired and inerrant Bible?'

Based on my view of Biblical inspiration, the answer that I had to come to was 'no.'  I say that because, first of all, because of my view of Biblical inspiration.  I believe that God worked through the human authors, using their own personalities, vocabulary, etc., but overriding their fundamental falleness, so that the final product was without error.  As far as I know, within the Protestant Camp, Calvinism is the only system that has such a high view of God's sovereignty that it would allow Him to do such.

Anybody that reads this, what do you think?  Am I completely warped in my thinking?  Please feel free to comment.

January 7, 2009

What is Calvinism, Part I

clip_image002[1]Introduction

First of all, I think that it must be said that John Calvin, I think would roll over in his grave if he knew that his system of beliefs had taken on his name. For John Calvin, his beliefs were nothing other than biblical Christianity. In fact, most people that hold to his system of beliefs prefer not to be called Calvinists. They prefer to be called ‘Reformed’ or just simply ‘biblical Christians;’ however, most would concede to the title of ‘Calvinist’ for the sake of conversation.

What Calvinism is Not

Those who oppose ‘Reformed’ or ‘Calvinistic’ theology make many slanderous accusations against it and those who subscribe to it. At this point in time, I only wish to address two such accusations.

Calvinists Do Not Worship John Calvin

The first of these is that those who are ‘Calvinists’ follow and worship the man John Calvin. This is nothing more than straw-man argument used to insight the masses to riot. In general, theological systems are named for their most prominent proponent or defender. Just a few examples that emerged from the Reformation era are 1) Lutheranism: was the theological framework that emerged from Luther’s teachings and those of his followers in the early days of the reformation; 2) Mennonitism: (or Mennonites) was named for the heretical Anabaptist Menno Simons; 3) Calvinism: the theological system we are here considering, which is named for John Calvin and is commonly know by the acrostic TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints) though that is not the sum total of it; 4) Arminianism; founded by the followers of Jacob Arminius, who stood in opposition to five of the points of Reformed Theology (those of the acrostic above) believing that man is not so fallen as to not be able to choose God of his own free will, that it is man who chooses God not the other way around, Christ’s atonement is not limited in its purpose, that man can resist the grace of God, and that genuine believers can and do fall away from the faith, (this belief system was decried as error at the Synod of Dort in 1619); 5) Amyraldism: named for Moses Amyraut and is a theological system that is something of a compromise between Calvinism and Arminianism, holding to all the points of ‘Calvinism’ except the particularity or limitedness of Christ’s atonement.

So with all of that as a backdrop, Calvinist’s no more worship John Calvin than any of these other systems do, which is not at all.

Calvinism Is Not Just a Man-Made System of Beliefs

Another such accusation that opponents of Reformed or Calvinistic Theology make is, that it is just a man-made system of beliefs that are artificially foisted upon the biblical text. This is not the case at all. Reformed theology is an attempt to systematically look at the text of Scripture and compile what it says and means in its most natural and logical sense. So, anyone that disagrees with Calvinistic theology needs to do so on the basis of clearly exegeted Scripture.

What Calvinism Is
It is Part of Catholic Christianity

The statement that Calvinistic theology is catholic, may raise some eyebrows. However, you need to understand how I use the term. First of the 'catholic' comes from the Koinē Greek word, καθολικός (katholikos), which means general or universal (Bauer, et al. 1979). When this is applied to the church, it is referring to the universal church of Christ. The universal church of Christ, or, by some, simply the church, “… is the community of all true believers for [or from] all times (Grudem 2000).” That means that everyone who has ever been truly saved, and thus had communion with Christ, is part of this universal body.

Most people, when they hear the term ‘catholic,’ automatically think you are talking about the Roman Catholic Church. In part that is because the RCC traditionally taught that to be outside of the fellowship of the Bishop of Rome, was to be outside of fellowship with Christ. So, to many, they are the catholic church, the one true representation of the body of Christ. However, there are many who would disagree with this.

So, when we say that Reformed theology is part of Catholic Christianity, in some ways, it is simply another way of saying that it is truly Christian.

It is Part of Protestant Christianity

Historically the church was divided into two parts: the Eastern Church and the Western Church. This division was based on the division in the ancient Roman Empire. The Eastern Church is what we know today as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Church is the Roman Catholic Church.

In the Western Church, during the 1500’s, there was a division that arose. The Western Church had grown corrupt, adopting beliefs and practices that were unbiblical. The Western Church taught that there were two sources of revelation: scripture and tradition, both of which could only be infallibly interpreted by the Bishop of Rome. On justification, the Roman church taught that man is saved by working in cooperation with God’s grace. There was a German Augustinian monk who, after actually reading Scripture, became convinced of two things: first, Scripture was the sole authority for faith and practice for the Christian and, secondly, that the Christian was justified by grace, through faith, because of the perfect righteousness of Christ, and apart from any good work. These beliefs stood in stark contrast to the official church teachings on these matters. The later followers of Luther came to be known as Protestants. One such person was John Calvin.

For Further Study

January 1, 2009

My 2009 Reading List

I have a confession to make.  I have the horrible habit (unless it is fiction) of getting books, starting to read them, losing interest about half-way through, and then putting them on my bookshelf to sit and collect dust.  So, in 2009, I am going to aim at reading one book for each month from my bookshelf.  The books are as follows, in no particular order:

  1. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ: A Treatise of the Redemption and Reconciliation that is in the Blood of Christ, with Merit Thereof, and Satisfaction Wrought Thereby by John Owen
  2. The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
  3. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
  4. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  5. By His Grace and For His Glory: A Historical, Theological, and Practical Study of the Doctrines of Grace in Baptist Life by Dr. Thomas J. Nettles
  6. Between Two Worlds: The Art of Preaching in the Twentieth Century By John R. W. Stott
  7. Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell
  8. Preaching and Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyed-Jones
  9. Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
  10. What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
  11. What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile
  12. Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Love  by Jerry Bridges

On top of those twelve books, I am going to try to read through the Bible yet again.  My plan for that is to read two chapters in the morning from the Old Testament and two chapters in the evening from the New Testament.  If my calculations are correct, that actually allows me to read through the OT once and the NT twice.

For some people this may not seam like a lot of reading, but for me, who has a very short attention span for things of a serious nature, this is probably going to be difficult.  However, I really do want to be a more serious reader.  If I have time this year, I would also like to read Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.


NOTE:

Each of the above links go to my sellers accounts on either monergismbooks.com or amazon.com.  If you purchase any of the books I get a commission.  As someone who is very much hurting for cash at the moment (am currently unemployed with a wife and three kids), I would very much appreciate the sales.

A Good Post on New Years Resolutions

David Mathis posted the following on the DesiringGod blog today:

Reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic Spiritual Depression would be a strong way to start the new year.

The title can be a tad deceiving. It’s not merely a book for those with a pronounced sense of spiritual depression. It’s a book for all Christians—for the daily spiritual depressions we all face this side of heaven.

Lloyd-Jones ends his second chapter with these challenging and refreshing words:

Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression? The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past. Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ. Never look back at your sins again. Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ’. That is your first step. Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you. What you need is not to make resolutions to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying. No! You just begin to say:

I rest my faith on Him alone
Who died for my transgressions to atone. (35)

HT: David Mathis