Thursday, August 30, 2007
A football star indicted for a crime stands before the cameras and expresses regret for his actions in hopes of saving future playing contracts and endorsement deals. A high profile politician is caught in a morally questionable situation and appears before the cameras to explain his behavior in hopes of saving his political career. A celebrity crashes her car while intoxicated and enters rehab.
Might these be examples of how we, as believers, deal with our sin? Do we express sorrow for our actions and desire to work on resisting our sin only after we get caught red-handed in it? Do we behave well on the outside, but sinful desires eat us up on the inside? Do we follow the rules merely because we want to avoid the scandal and pain of getting caught? Can you be sober for all the wrong reasons?
Colquhoun contrasts the falsehood of "legal" repentance with the genuine article of "evangelical" repentance:
In the exercise of legal repentance, the sinner mourns for sin only as it has wounded his own soul; which shows that his remorse flows merely from a natural spring, and rises only to a natural height. But in the exercise of evangelical repentance, the believer mourns for sin as it has wounded his dear Redeemer, as it has pierced that heart which loves him, and spilled blood which redeems him (p. 90).
A man may abhor sin more for the shame which attends it than for the malignity and odiousness which are in it; and he may hate one sin because it is contrary to another which he loves dearly. The sincere penitent, on the contrary, hates all sin as sin, and abhors it chiefly for the evil that is in it. A man may even forsake most of his transgressions without exercising true repentance. If he forsake open, and yet retain secret sins, or if he leave sin and yet continue to love it, or if he let one sin go in order to hold another faster, or if he forsake sin, but not as sin, he is not a true penitent. He who forsakes any sin as sin, or because it is sin, relinquishes all sin. The sincere penitent forsakes all iniquity from right principles, by right motives, in a right manner, and to a right end. Let every man take heed, then, that he do not impose upon himself by mistaking a false for a true repentance. And if he begin to suspect that his repentance is legal and counterfeit, let him without delay trust cordially in Jesus Christ for grace to exercise evangelical repentance (pp. 91-92).
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The Coalition has issued a statement titled "The Gospel for All of Life" in which the Preamble reads:
We are a fellowship of evangelical churches deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures. We have become deeply concerned about some movements within traditional evangelicalism that seem to be diminishing the church’s life and leading us away from our historic beliefs and practices. On the one hand, we are troubled by the idolatry of personal consumerism and the politicization of faith; on the other hand, we are distressed by the unchallenged acceptance of theological and moral relativism. These movements have led to the easy abandonment of both biblical truth and the transformed living mandated by our historic faith. We not only hear of these influences, we see their effects. We have committed ourselves to invigorating churches with new hope and compelling joy based on the promises received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
D. A. Carson provided an explanation of the group’s beginnings and a rationale for its existence at the group’s conference (listen here). He noted that the group is tentatively planning to host a national conference in April of 2009.
Analysis: It is interesting to note the growing emphasis on the recovery of the gospel as the center of the evangelical Christian witness. One wonders, however, at the wisdom of the multiplication and overlap of such organizations. The Gospel Coalition sounds much like the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and Together for the Gospel and includes many of the same leaders. One also wonders about such supra-denominational groups. In the zeal to promote proper soteriology, do we run the risk of minimizing other doctrines (such as ecclesiology, pneumatology, baptism, etc.)?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
"Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord."
I recalled, Michael Haykin’s quotation (in Defence of the Truth, pp. 86-87) of Gregory of Nyssa who used the analogy of a rainbow to describe both the mystery of the Trinity and the nature of God (see Letter 38.5):
Yet receive what I say as at best a token and reflexion of the truth; not as the actual truth itself. For it is not possible that there should be complete correspondence between what is seen in the tokens and the objects in reference to which the use of tokens is adopted. Why then do I say that an analogy of the separate and the conjoined is found in objects perceptible to the senses? You have before now, in springtime, beheld the brightness of the bow in the cloud….
Now this brilliance is both continuous and divided. It is of many colours; it is of many forms; it is insensibly steeped in the variegated bright tints of its dye; imperceptibly abstracting from our vision the combination of many coloured things, with the result that no space, mixing or paring within itself the difference of colour, can be discerned either between blue and flame-coloured, or between flame-coloured and red, or between red and amber. For all the rays, seen at the same time, are far shining, and while they give no signs of their mutual combination, are incapable of being tested, so that it is impossible to discover the limits of the flame-coloured or of the emerald portion of the light, and at what point each originates before it appears as it does in glory. As then in the token we clearly distinguish the difference of the colours, and yet it is impossible for us to apprehend by our senses any interval between them; so in like manner conclude, I pray you, that you may reason concerning the divine dogmas; that the peculiar properties of the hypostases, like colours seen in the Iris, flash their brightness on each of the Persons Whom we believe to exist in the Holy Trinity; but that of the proper nature no difference can be conceived as existing between one and the other, the peculiar characteristics shining, in community of essence, upon each….
My argument thus teaches us, even by the aid of the visible creation, not to feel distressed at points of doctrine whenever we meet with questions difficult of solution, and when at the thought of accepting what is proposed to us, our brains begin to reel….
Monday, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
The husband, Logan Ward, has written about the experience in a book, See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America.
In the article, the Wards describe what drove them to seek this experience:
"For a long time we loved New York, and we were thrilled to be there," said Ward, who has written for magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal and Popular Mechanics. "Having a child suddenly forced us to think about our choices as they would affect him.
"Also, our jobs kept us pretty stressed out. This was around 2000, and e-mail had really caught on. My inbox kept filling up and, when I tried not to answer it, that backfired.
"Heather and I both felt that the technology that was supposed to make our lives easier was making us feel enslaved."
Heather Ward was trying to make the world a better place by working at a justice-reform think tank. But travel kept her away from home a lot. Within a two-year period, she visited every continent, except Australia and Antarctica.
Pangs of guilt
Having to turn her firstborn over to the care of near strangers during the workday caused pangs of guilt and anxiety as well. She felt chained to her computer and cell phone and was troubled by her absolute reliance on technology.
"Not many people seem to question all this technology," Heather Ward said. "We all assume this is right, because it's what everyone does. And it's the only way to do your job.
"It's the only way to keep up, keep earning your income so you can keep your apartment and all the stuff that you like to have. So when you think about letting go of even one aspect of that modern life, the rest of the house of cards can fall.
"I think that's why we looked for such a radical change. We couldn't keep doing what we were doing and not have e-mail, the car, the commute or the television. The whole thing had to shift."
What is the answer to the tyranny of modern convenience (unending email, cell phones, television programs, web-surfing, and text messages)? Running off to live a year without electricity and no email? Going Amish? How about starting with a day of rest in the Lord? A day of rest in Jesus, our Jubilee.
Monday, August 06, 2007
- Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended (Christian Research Press [original 1956] 2000).
- Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont, compilers, The New Testament in the Original Greek, Byzantine Textform 2005 (Chilton, 2005).
I read the Greek text last Spring and finally got around to reading the Appendix, Robinson’s article, "A Case for Byzantine Priority" (pp. 533-86). Robinson argues for the Byzantine text, over against the modern eclectic reconstruction of the Greek text.
- John MacArthur, Because the Time is Near (Moody, 2007).
The subtitle is "John MacArthur Explains the Book of Revelation." This work is intended for a popular audience. It presents MacArthur’s pre-tribulational, pre-millennial, dispensational reading of Revelation. For me it solidified how the dispensational approach super-imposes an end times scheme on the text that does not emerge on its own. I plan to write a longer review later.
Children’s historical works:
- Bruce Blivens, Jr., The American Revolution (Random House, 1958).
Wonderful overview of the American Revolution in the classic Landmark series.
- Hazel Wilson, The Story of Lafayette (Grosset & Dunlap, 1952).
Solid overview of the life of the French patriot in the Signature series.
- Edith Gray Pierce, Horace Mann: Our Nation’s First Educator (Lerner, 1972).
Interesting 1970s propaganda on the virtues of the Unitarian Mann and how he escaped the evangelical preaching of his youth to champion public schools free from religious entanglements. I did not realize that Mann had been the founding president of ultra-liberal Antioch College, which folded this year.