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3GT Episode 63: little c catholicity

The Presbyterian pastor is confessional but wants also to be a little c catholic. In other words, how can you hold strongly to doctrines but also work with other professing Christians? The professor tries to help him with Al Mohler’s Theological Triage, but the pastor is not so sure. What if one person’s first-level is another’s third-level or vice versa? They try to sort things out, and when the parishioner jumps into the fray before you know it they’re discussing everything from the Trinity to headcoverings to the Sabbath. And when the pastor tries sliding in the idea of union, unity, and uniformity, is he just offering his own theological triage?

A helpful episode? Hopefully, but it is certainly an interesting one!


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Transition Propositions

In 2013 I moved to Western Pennsylvania after more than two decades as a pastor to teach at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The longer I am at it, the more I love my role as a professor of pastoral theology. I enjoy greatly the practical nature of my work.

I am honored to witness firsthand men and women growing in their application of the faith. Young men develop in their ability to proclaim the gospel. Men and women testify excitedly about learning to do visitation or discipling a young convert. Men seek counsel as they wrestle with calls to churches. Former students call and discuss their kingdom service. It is a privilege to stand on the train platform, so to speak, and watch the Lord conduct his people through life and ministry transitions.

When I came to RPTS, that’s all I planned to do. Be a teaching professor who helped others go through transitions. I thought my life course was basically settled. Yet, as I recently wrote to some friends, the Lord had other unexpected plans for me:

I had no intention of assuming any greater responsibility than these. But in the providence of God, I have been asked by our seminary’s […]

3GT Episode 62: The Sanctification Scene

With the Christian blogosphere aflame once again, this time with discussions regarding justification and sanctification, the 3GT men join in the fray. With Aaron pumping the questions, and Kyle and Barry responding energetically, they discuss current controversies then tackle the latter subject of sanctification. Minus a morose morbidity, they meditate on mortification while with vim and vigor they verify their views on vivification!

Well, just listen to the podcast. This episode and subject is much clearer than what you just read!


You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!

A Concise Resource on Justification by Faith Alone from Romans 4:3-5

With the confusion that is often sown regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone, I wanted to review and clarify in my own mind my understanding of this essential doctrine. Especially in light of just celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, writing down my thoughts is a good exercise in application. Yet I wanted to be sure this clarification came from a study of Scripture, not only just from reading what others have written about it.

Thus, I returned to the crystal clear teaching of Romans 4:3-5 on this subject. How refreshing it is! This text says, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (NASB).

I thought I would share my thoughts with you. To that end, I offer below why this subject continues to need to be treated, a concise exegetical treatment on how to understand this text, a short summary statement on justification from my study, and then a guard produced […]

Holidays and Holy Days (Part 2)

The following article is a guest post by Dr. Michael LeFebvre, Pastor of Christ Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, author of Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms, and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Board President. 


Several years ago, I wrote a post for Gentle Reformation called “Holidays and Holy Days” (link here). In that article, I described the roots of the Christian Calendar—including holidays like Easter and Christmas—in the Levitical holy days of the Old Testament. The point of that article was to explain why some churches like the RPCNA uphold the Lord’s Day Sabbath (which the New Testament continues to exhort) while not observing extrabiblical holy days like Christmas. The New Testament does not institute Christmas as a holy day, and in fact the Old Testament Levitical festivals (on which the “Christian Calendar” was based) have been discontinued in the New Testament. With due respect for the sincerity with which many hold Advent worship services each December, there is actually significant reason to question the celebration of Christmas as a church holy day.

That being said, there is every good reason to affirm the place of Christmas in the calendar of American, civic holidays. And to celebrate it as a civic holiday (but […]

3GT Episode 61: When Elders Come Knocking

Aaron wants to know about the strange Reformed phenomenon known as elder visitations. So Kyle and Barry, aspiring Jedis, tell him about their training under the Yoda of visitation, who is hidden far away in the fair plains of Kansas. Secrets of this mysterious rite are revealed.

From there the guys talk about the Biblical concept of shepherding, the importance of elders knowing the flock of God, practical guidelines for making visitations, and the benefits of elders being in the homes of God’s people. Don’t miss this edifying episode of 3GT!


You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!

Onboard with a Transgender Flight Attendant

This past summer I flew a number of times. On one international flight, as I boarded I was met by a friendly, female flight attendant. As I passed by her to go to my seat, in my mind I did a double take. I realized that the attendant was not a woman, but a man dressed as one. It was pretty obvious.

His face was broad and his voice was husky. Those qualities could easily have been attributed to genetics or a cold. But as I took my seat in the row closest to first class (love the legroom there), other things stood out that made it clear this attendant indeed was a man.

He served the first class passengers warmly and played the part of a hostess quite well. Yet he could not overcome certain things. His thick Adam’s apple protruded. When he walked, he swung his hips just like a man might do imitating a woman, sadly painful to witness. When talking with a seated passenger, he would lean over them with too much intensity and eye-batting. He would then respond to something they said by flipping his long hair back over his shoulder like a teenage girl might do. Observing […]

Thanksgiving Incense

I sit alone by crackling fire.
Quiet prayers of gratitude ascend.
Spirit-fired sparks shoot upward.

We embraced a long-lost son this week.
He tells us he was blind and dead.
He now sees! He is alive!

I kissed a head for the first time.
A dimple-cheeked grandson was placed in my arms.
I still feel his softness, the hope he gives.

Another grandchild was shy at first.
Yet she of brown eyes and ponytail remembered love.
My legs became her slide, my arms her wings to flight.

A daughter too far away gave birth.
For yesterday a little dove arrived.
How can love fill a heart so for one yet unseen?

I rejoice over children walking in faithfulness.
The two middle ones will celebrate at other tables today.
The faces of our two youngest bringing joy to our own.

I sat at other tables this week.
Lifelong friends smiled across from me.
Stories and laughter outer signs of the Spirit’s bonds.

Thanksgivings, like holy incense, drift heavenward.
Yet libations are present also.
For tears of gratitude drop upon the hearth.

Proverbial Sayings in the Law: Sow One Seed in Your Vineyard

When one considers the law section of the Bible known as the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible – it is easy to think of them simply as codes and regulations like we have in modern law. Yet we need to remember there are various literary genres contained in what we know as the Law of Moses – Genesis through Deuteronomy. There are certainly legal stipulations such as those associated with the sacrificial section or the civil law of ancient Israel, but there also historical narratives such as Moses leading Israel out of Egypt in Exodus, prophetic portions such as Balaam’s pronouncements in Numbers, genealogies like the one found in Genesis 5, and even Hebraic poetry like that found in Genesis 4:23-24.

Another interesting thing to note in the book of Deuteronomy is the presence of what we might call proverbial sayings. When Moses is speaking, perhaps rather than viewing what he is saying as simply a legal stipulation for Israel, we might want to remember what this book truly is. Deuteronomy is not simply a collection of laws, but it is Moses preaching a sermon based on Israel’s history and the law the Lord had given them to […]