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Showing posts from November, 2011

new release: theology of edwards

Gerry's new book is out, and already at the top of my wish list. (I like the cover art, as well... they've put some color in JE's cheeks.)  Will have to save a few $ before it goes in the shopping cart.  (I think Oxford's publishing philosophy is "we publish no book under $80.") The Theology of Jonathan Edwards , by Michael J. McClymond, and Gerald R. McDermott. (Oxford University Press, 2011) By the way, co-author Michael McClymond, historical theologian at St. Louis University, will be in Roanoke, February 10 (Friday) at 7:30 pm at Antrim Chapel, speaking on, "Jonathan Edwards and the Future of Global Christianity."  (Sponsored by the Blakley Fund for Evangelical Studies.  The public is invited; no tickets are required.)


"...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  (2 Cor 5:17 ESV)  This truth refers not just to my individual story of conversion to Christ.  Indeed, at age 20 I died to an old  life and found new life in Jesus.  But more, as united to Christ by faith and by the Spirit, I am part of the new creation that  began at Jesus' resurrection, which will be consummated in fullness at his second advent. It was the Firstborn and Lord of the new heavens and new earth who stepped out of the tomb that Sunday, and us with him.   Chesterton writes,  On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away.  In  varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night.  What they were  looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God  walke

such a good shepherd

Listen to this song by Fernando Ortega.  Enter in, and worship the Shepherd!

Wesley on human depravity

Sometimes people think that it is only Calvinists that hold to "total depravity".  Yet this is a biblical doctrine, held also by classic Arminians, too.  It is only in Pelagius (in the 4th century) and later in the Enlightenment and some branches of modern evangelicalism that believe there is some good spark in humanity that is able to respond to the knowledge and goodness of God.   Case in point is this excerpt from John Wesley's sermon on "Original Sin." "...we can have no love of God: We cannot love him we know not. Most men talk indeed of loving God, and  perhaps imagine they do; at least, few will acknowledge they do not love him: But the fact is too plain to be denied. No man  loves God by nature, any more than he does a stone, or the earth he treads upon. What we love we delight in: But no man has  naturally any delight in God. In our natural state we cannot conceive how any one should delight in him. We take no pleasure  in him at all; he is u

Parker V-S Vacumatic Successor

Great pen. Took many good notes with a burgundy VS in D. A. Carson's class on Hebrews. Eccentric? Yes, I know. PenHero 365: Parker V-S Vacumatic Successor

hard sayings of Jesus

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink."  (John 6:53-55 ESV) I'm preparing to preach on the second half of John chapter 6, which includes this statement by Jesus.  His hearers -- both outsiders and his own disciples -- found it difficult and offensive.  As would many today.     In my study I came across F. F. Bruce's book, The Hard Sayings of Jesus (IVP Academic, 1983)  His introduction is noteworthy: Many of those who listened to Jesus during his public ministry found some of his sayings 'hard', and said so. Many of those who read his sayings today, or hear them read in church, also find them hard, but do not always think it fitting to say so. Our Lord's sayings were all of a piece with his ac

what to give thanks for

Many families like mine, I know, have a time around the Thanksgiving dinner table where we share "what we are thankful for."   Sometimes, especially with younger children, there may be long pauses after we've thanked God for our family and pets.   So, it's time to think ahead and get a running start on gratitude.  Here's what I came up with this morning... God exists, and you are not him.  God reigns, not chance!  God rules over creation and history, working all things according to the counsel of his most wise and glorious will.  Give thanks for these truths!   God is unchanging in his essence, nature and purposes. God is good, his steadfast love endures forever, he is infinitely wise and powerful, and he is not capricious or evil. Give thanks that he is trustworthy! God has made a beautiful creation: trees, mountains, animals, and many other things.  For all things bright and beautiful, great and small, wise and wonderful -- give thanks to God f

highlights, from the garden to the city

I am enjoying From the Garden to the City , by John Dyer, which is a readable, yet thoughtful, biblical theology of technology.  Here are some quotes... “One of the most dangerous things you can believe in this world is that technology is neutral.” "When technology has distracted us to the point that we no longer examine it, it gains the greatest opportunity to enslave u s."  “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” (quoting John Culkin) "...a simple, encompassing definition of technology: 'the human activity of using tools to transform God’s creation for  practical purposes.'" "Technology, then, is the means by which we transform the world as it is into the world that we desire. What we often fail to  notice is that it is not only the world that gets transformed by technology. We, too, are transformed." "In this sense, technology sits between us and the world, changing and molding both at once. The world feels the s

we are bracketed

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."  Blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.  (Revelation 22:13-14 ESV) "Our lives are bracketed, or, boundaried, not by the decisions and actions of Caesar, not by the rise and fall of Rome, nor by the rise and fall of the United States. Our lives are boundaried by him, ‘the first and the last.’ Whatever else happens in our history and whatever else happens in my history, Jesus is there as the first word and Jesus is there as the last word. And Jesus is here in the middle with the Word that gives us life.”   (--Darrell W. Johnson, Discipleship On The Edge: An Expository Journey Through The Book of Revelation ) Painting above, Christ in the Hagia Sophia as "Pantokrator", which is Greek for "The Almighty (All-powerful) One". 

amateur + google = scholar?

Here's a quote sent to me from my friend Harry...   "One of the most disastrous illusions of the internet age is that  an amateur plus Google is equivalent to a scholar. A search  engine offers information, more or less relevant according to the  skill of the searcher. But it does not sift that information; it  does not sort fact from fancy, wheat from chaff. It does not  explain which facts are relevant and which are beside the point.  It does not weigh the merits of competing arguments and tell the  user where the balance of evidence lies. A bright amateur armed  with the internet may at best be better informed than he would  otherwise have been, and he may occasionally catch a real scholar  in a factual error. But it will not turn him into a scholar  himself. There is no such thing as effortless erudition." (- Dr. Timothy McGrew,  Professor of Philosophy at Western Michigan U )    

not at all natural

"And [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him." (Acts 17:26-27 ESV)  An age-old question of philosophers is, "why is there something rather than nothing?"  Another question easily overlooked is the follow-up, "why is there this something rather than something else?"  Sixty years ago, in an article titled "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences," Physicist Eugene Wigner, who received a Nobel Prize for theoretical contributions to nuclear physics, remarked, "it is not at all natural that 'laws of nature' exist, much less that man is able to discover them." Here are some other things he wrote: "The enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is

on athanasius

" [Athanasius] stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, 'whole and undefiled,' when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius – into one of those 'sensible' synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away."   (--C. S. Lweis on the influence of Athanasius, from his introduction, On The Incarnation )

real hope

“Christian hope is not about wishing things will get better. It is not about hoping that emptiness will go away, meaning return, and life will be stripped of its uncertainties, aches, and anxieties. Nor does it have anything to do with techniques for improving fallen human life, be those therapeutic, spiritual, or even religious. Hope has to do with the knowledge of ‘the age to come.’ This redemption is already penetrating ‘this age.’ The sin, death, and meaninglessness of the one age are being transformed by the righteousness, life and meaning of the other. What has emptied out life, what has scarred and blackened it, is being displaced by what is rejuvenating and transforming it. More than that, hope is hope because it knows it has become part of a realm, a kingdom, that endures. It knows that evil is doomed, that it will be banished. This kind of hope has left behind it the ship of ‘this age,’ which is sinking.” (--David F. Wells, from The Courage to Be Protestant )

a prayer

Martyn Lloyd-Jones mentions in his sermon "What is a Christian?" a stanza that  Hudson Taylor had written on a slip of paper that he used as a bookmark. When Taylor,  founder of China Inland Mission,  died in 1905, this was discovered in his Bible:  Lord Jesus make Thyself to me A living bright reality More present to faith’s vision keen Than any outward object seen More near, more intimately nigh Than e’en the sweetest earthly tie. --Attributed to  Charlotte Elliott  (1789-1871)

excerpts, os guinness on evil and modernity

Interviewer : Do you think the American church is heading down the  wrong path with its concert-style worship and feel-good lectures that  are part of many services? Os Guinness : I think that evangelicalism in America at the moment has  lost its way. It is profoundly worldly. It is almost as deep in what  Martin Luther called a Babylonian captivity as the pre-Reformation church was.   And much what we have here is more American than it is really  Christian.  And there are different examples.   If you look at the religious right, that has become an ideology that  practices things that are anti-Christian. They do demonize their  enemies, they do stereotype their enemies. I've been horrified this  year as you do and Stuart does and Ravi does, we love apologetics,  the defense of the faith. But it's to win people. Whereas the current  tendency in the American church is to turn apologetics into culture  warring. Us/them, we/they, those dreadful liberals or those atheists  or tho

thank you, veterans!

that's what I suspected

the gospel visualized

Trevin Wax has made a helpful graphic explaining the three-legs of the gospel according to his book, Counterfeit Gospels .  The three legs are the Gospel Story, the Gospel Announcement, and the Gospel Community...

walking on the water

When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened.  But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."  Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.  (John 6:19-21 ESV) "Christ Walking on the Water" was painted about 1901 by Russian landscape artist, Julius Sergius von Klever (1850-1924). 

the gospel begrudged

"The world bears the Gospel a grudge because the Gospel condemns  the religious wisdom of the world. Jealous for its own religious  views, the world in turn charges the Gospel with being a  subversive and licentious doctrine, offensive to God and man, a  doctrine to be persecuted as the worst plague on earth. As a  result we have this paradoxical situation: The Gospel supplies  the world with the salvation of Jesus Christ, peace of  conscience, and every blessing. Just for that the world abhors  the Gospel."  --Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians  

sunday notes and quotes

This passage answers these three questions: “ Who is Jesus? Why  should I believe him? And what does he want from me? ”   1) The unique relationship of the Son to God the Father is described in 5:16-30:  • He does whatever the Father does (19) • He knows all that the Father is doing (20) • He gives life like the Father gives (21, 24-26) • He is the Judge of all (22, 27-30) • He is to be honored in the same way as the Father (23) • His word believed gives eternal life and rescues from j udgment (24) “The Son’s will is to please his Father,  not just to save us; and the Father’s will is to have all men  honor the Son, not just to forgives us. To grasp the divine  relationships in the drama of redemption is to humble our pride  and heighten our sense of speechless privilege. To be saved and  renewed, to be recipients of new life, to be forgiven, all  because we are caught up in the perfection of love among the  Persons of the Godhead, is unutterably solemn, ecstatic