Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank Who?

Have you ever stopped to consider that the phrase "thank you" is directed at someone? By implication, when we celebrate Thanksgiving, we are giving thanks to someone.

Certainly this creates a dilemma for the atheist. Who is he thanking, himself? Blind, stupid luck? Perhaps atheists are never thankful for the circumstances they find themselves in. Or, perhaps they just have that feeling of generic thankfulness which is never directed anywhere or to anyone. Whatever the case, they are not able to be thankful in the proper way.

Those of other religions are not better off. Since God commands us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, someone who doesn't worship Him in that way has created his own God, and committed idolatry. His thankfulness only brings more judgment on himself.

For the Christian, this should be no problem. Yet often times I find myself slipping into that same type of "thankfulness" that is directed at no one in particular.

This year, spend some time considering not only what you are thankful for, but also to whom you are thankful - God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 19, 2007

John Piper on Right Belief

I just downloaded a PDF copy of John Piper's new book The Future of Justification, his response to N. T. Wright. It's available for free download from here.

I can already tell I'm going to like it.

In the book's introduction, John Piper is talking about some of Wright's statements, and then talks about the implications, sort of whetting the appetite for the rest of the book. One part mentions one of Wright's famous statements, "We are not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith." But Piper's introductory reply to this statement also speaks to those from the Emerging Church and elsewhere who would divorce right belief from a relationship with Jesus. I particularly like what he says at the end about the one who claims a relationship with God while at the same time rejecting the Gospel which is set forth in Scripture.

Fourth, part of the implication of what Wright has said so far is that we are not justified by believing in justification by faith but by believing in Jesus: "We are not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith. We are justified by faith by believing in the gospel itself—in other words, that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead."18 This sounds right. Of course, we are not saved by doctrine. We are saved by Christ. But it is misleading, because it leaves the meaning of "believing in the gospel" undefined. Believing in the gospel for what? Prosperity? Healing? A new job? If we are going to help people believe the gospel in a saving way (not the way the demons believe, and not the way Simon the magician believed, James 2:19; Acts 8:13, 21–23), we will have to announce the good news that Christ died for them; that is, we will have to announce why this death and resurrection are good news for them.

There is more than one way to say it. Many people have been saved without hearing the language of justification. The same is true with regard to the words and realities of "regeneration" and "propitiation" and "redemption" and "reconciliation" and "forgiveness." A baby believer does not have to understand all of the glorious things that have happened to him in order to be saved. But these things do all have to happen to him. And if he comes to the settled conviction, when he hears about them, that he will not trust Christ for any one of them, there is a serious question mark over his salvation. Therefore, it is misleading to say that we are not saved by believing in justification by faith. If we hear that part of the gospel and cast ourselves on God for this divine gift, we are saved. If we hear that part of the gospel and reject it, while trying to embrace Christ on other terms, we will not be saved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jesus Interprets Paul?

On another blog, someone made this comment, and it's been bugging me.

Jesus interprets Paul. Not the other way around. Everything Paul writes should gain it's context and tone through the filter of Jesus. Paul (along with the other writers in NT) was inspired by the Holy Spirit. So if there are things Paul writes or implies that doesn't SEEM to jive with the person of Jesus as seen in the's just a matter of deferring to Jesus until one gets a better understanding of Paul's intent through study or simply the Holy Ghost.

Is this just a matter of "tie goes to the runner," or is there more at work here? It seems to stem from the notion that the "words in red" should be given more weight than the rest of Scripture. But are Jesus' words more important or more inspired than Paul's, or John's, or David's? I don't think so.

This notion seems to contravene the idea of progressive revelation. God's plan becomes more clear as we move throughout the Bible because He has revealed more of it as we move throughout the ages. So it would seem that, all things being equal, it would be Paul interpreting Jesus, not the other way around. And in general, I think Paul's writing is much more fleshed out in his theology than the Gospels.

I also see the potential for abuse with this. For example, someone could claim that Jesus takes no position on homosexuality, but Paul does. You could potentially have someone who waffles on homosexuality (or worse), and uses Jesus as their basis for doing so.

Bottom line - it bothers me because it goes against what I've learned about Scripture. But I could always be wrong.

So I'm looking for input.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Heidelberg Project - from TheResurgence

Heidelberg Project | TheResurgence

This is a great idea! 3 minutes a week of the Heidelberg Catechism.

I wonder if anyone has done this with the Westminster Confession or the LBCF.