Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2022

on visiting a liberal church

Earlier this year, because of a family obligation, I attended a service at a mainline denominational church.  At the front of the church, next to the robed female minister wearing a colorful stole, was a large banner, headed with the words, "Be The Church." Historically, in this denomination the Ten Commandments would have likely been displayed, rather than these ten progressive values (see picture of banner above). My first thought was, why did they feel the freedom to change and reorient God's commandments? Loving God dropped from #1 to #9. (It appears that even recycling is more important than loving God.) And I'm thinking the word "diversity" on this banner means something different than the biblical view of God's diverse creation. In another point, "forgive often" seems to give us a little more wiggle room than, say, " forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matt 6:12).  As helpful as these values might be fo

dismissing Jesus

"For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." (Hebrews 2:2-4 ESV)  People dismiss Jesus so lightly and casually.  Some are casually profane, using Jesus' name in a throwaway manner, similar to "G-dammit" or "OMG". Others quietly dismiss him by ignoring his claims and neglecting any serious consideration of who he is and what he came to do. Some people are very open and outspoken in rejecting his existence and his identity. Either way, people daily wave aside any serious thought about him. It's so casual, and very dismissive. And very dangerous.   Why is this so dangerous? The Bible is ver

the Messiah and nature

"...those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy (Psalm 65:8 ESV)   In retirement I have a bit more time to observe nature, identify bird songs, and photograph trees and flowers. I'm even finding mushrooms to be fascinating, but I am not experimenting with their edibility! Each day I realize something of the goodness and beauty of the world that God created, even though now it is marred by sin and death.  READING PSALM 65. This psalm can be divided into three sections. First, we should praise God, for he has atoned for sin and reconciled us to himself forever (vv 1-4). Secondly, the global work of God's righteousness will bring about redemption for the nations, resulting in great joy (vv 5-8). Thirdly, this will culminate with blessings upon all creation, again, resulting in joyful praise (vv 9-13), "...they shout and sing together for joy" (65:13). There is a movement i

on the field of battle

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)  This week I toured the Cedar Mountain Battlefield with a couple of friends who love history. As we walked about the area, noting the stone markers where Jackson's company was, where the artillery batteries were, and where the Union troops from Wisconsin marched, I was struck by the loss

stott on inspiration

I am finishing up the first volume of the Dudley-Smith's excellent biography of John R. W. Stott. After his conversion as a teenager, Stott embraced an evangelical view of Christianity, which was tested in his years at Cambridge. He and Billy Graham conversed about the challenges of believing in the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures in light of modern scholarship.  After much reflection, Stott held firm in his conclusion, in "both the rightness and the reasonableness of submitting to the authority of Scripture." He later wrote,  "First, to accept the authority of the Bible is a Christian thing to do. It is neither a religious eccentricity, nor a case of discreditable obscurantism, but the good sense of Christian faith and humility. It is essentially 'Christian' because it is what Christ himself requires of us. The traditional view of Scripture (that it is God's word written) may be called the 'Christian' view precisely because it is Chri

on the free exercise of religion

In my own reading it seemed timely to me that I came upon a section in an apologetic book which dealt with the separation of church and state as commonly (mis)understood today. The author is Dr. John Frame, retired professor of systematic theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. Here are a few highlights...  The Christian, as opposed to the secularist, comes to realize we are accountable to a law higher than, and outside of, ourselves. Namely, "the source of morality is greater than our family, our clan, even our church. Greater than our present loyalty, but not greater than loyalty itself. Morality is grounded in a higher loyalty, and a higher love." Christians do not abandon the use of reason, but rather they reject purely autonomous reason: "Only Christianity, abandoning autonomy for trust in God’s revelation, presents a suitable account of both the powers and limitations of reason, neither deifying nor denying our rational faculty." On

danger and duty in studying science

  I'm currently reading Wisdom and Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art (Christian's Library Press; English translation, 2011) by Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). Kuyper was a Dutch Reformed theologian, founder of the Free University of Amsterdam, who also served as the prime minister of Holland from 1901 to 1905. Based upon his view of common grace he demonstrates that, despite the dangers inherent in scientific and artistic studies, Christians are called to participate and dignify these disciplines that God has given graciously to be shared by all humanity.   In part one, Kuyper is arguing for Christians to maintain their work in the sciences without succumbing to materialism (philosophical naturalism) in their worldview and approach. He observes that the western world has been "led to the increasing materializing of all science, feeding the false notion that spiritual life arose from material causes." Below are some excerpts taken from this section.  On the natur

the power of words

I love words, and the power of words . Human language is amazing, and it is a miracle of God's creation.    Being made in God's image includes the ability to communicate by way of language. This often involves a high level of abstraction -- ideas, purposes, meanings, desires, intents, reasons, connections -- not merely verbal sounds representing material objects.  Language is the medium of exchange for ideas, and for revealing the hidden things in our hearts. We come to know one another through our words. Granted, there are additional ways we learn from one another -- our lifestyle, shared experiences, ethical choices, etc. But the language of words is vital for knowing and understanding one another. Community is built upon communication, the giving and receiving of thoughts, knowledge, and ultimately (hopefully) truth. True and lasting community is built upon true ideas. Words can be used to deceive and to harm, but words can also be used to inform, enlighten, build up, correc

reading John Stott

"For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:5-6 ESV) "Preaching the gospel, far from being unnecessary, is indispensable. It is the God-appointed means by which the prince of darkness is defeated and the light comes streaming into people's hearts. There is power in God's gospel -- his power for salvation (Rom. 1:16). "In our day there is a widespread disenchantment with words. People are bombarded with words by advertisers, politicians, and propagandists, until they become 'word-resistant.' In countries where television is available, words lose their power because of the greater power of images. After all, what is a word? Only a puff of breath, and in a moment it is gone, so intangible and tr

on systematic theology, part 2

In my previous post I wrote about the importance of systematic theology , not just for our thinking but for our spiritual life. Doctrine is very practical, and it leads to devotion which is not only heart-filled but clear-headed. There are usually nine or ten divisions traditionally given to the topics within Christian theology. Here's my list, with notation of how practical and devotional I find these studies... BIBLIOLOGY is the study of the doctrine of God's revelation . He has shown us his will, as well as his thoughts, heart, and plan for history. This is important because it lays the foundation of God's authority in my life. I can know truth, and reality, and what is authoritative and important in life, because God himself has revealed these things to us in the Scriptures. THEOLOGY PROPER is the doctrine of God , who he is, and what we can know about him. He is not a force, not some-thing beyond good and evil, not fatalistic. He is a sovereign and infinitely good B

on systematic theology

  "For my own part I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand." (C. S. Lewis, Introduction to Athanasius' On The Incarnation )  "And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'" (Matthew 22:37)  My special focus of study in seminary was systematic theology. This has become a lifelong pursuit and passion for me. Systematic theology (also called Christian dogmatics) is biblical truth, articulated and arranged by subject into a logical and inter-connected order. It is a compilation of "sound doctri

truth and glory

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14)  ============   "The truth is objective; it exists independently of us. It does not direct itself toward us; we have to direct ourselves toward it. But just as the wisdom of God became flesh in Christ, so should the truth also enter us. In the path of freedom, it must become our personal and spiritual property. Through a living and true faith, it must become an essential part of our thinking and doing, and then spread outside us until the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord."  -- From Christian Worldview , by Herman Bavinck (Crossway, 2019; from Dutch version, 1913).  

grace and glory

"And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Romans 8:30 ESV)  "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)  Thomas Manton (1620–1677) wrote, “Grace is the beginning of glory, and glory is but grace perfected. Grace is glory in the bud, and molding, and making; for when the apostle would express our whole conformity to Christ, he only expresses it thus, ‘We are changed into his image from glory to glory,’ (2 Cor 3:18), that is, from one degree of grace to another. It is called glory, because the progress of holiness never ceases till it comes to the perfection of glory and life eternal. The first degree of grace is glory begun, and the final consummation is glory perfected. All the degrees of our confo

man's highest good

"And he 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. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us..." (Acts 17:26-27 ESV) Why were we created? What is our ultimate purpose? Why are we so restless?  Here's Dutch theologian  Herman Bavinck on "Man's Highest Good"… “The conclusion, therefore, is that of Augustine, who said that the heart of man was created for God and that it cannot find rest unless it rests in its Father’s heart. Hence, all men are really seeking after God, as Augustine also declared, but they do not all seek Him in the right way nor at the right place. They seek Him down below, and He is above, they seek Him on the earth, and He is in Heaven.  They seek Him afar, and He is nearby. They seek Him in money, in property, in fame, in power,