C.S. Lewis opens his brilliant, prophetic series of lectures entitled The Abolition of Man with these words: “I doubt whether we are sufficiently attentive to the importance of elementary text books.” Lewis alerts his audience to particular lessons children in his day were learning about values, ethics and knowledge – lessons which, if uncritically absorbed into our souls, gut our very humanity. How this dehumanizing happens, I’ll not spoil for you – please read the book if you’ve not already! Suffice it to say, Lewis was right.
Many thanks to Barry York, James Faris and Nathan Eshelman – and by extension to Dr. Joel Beeke! – for your heartfelt articles pertaining to the national elections (forgive me if I missed any authors!). Thanks for being willing to step into the virtual minefield of this volatile topic with the courage of your convictions as well as the kindness and humility which demonstrate your sincere love for Christ and desire to serve Him. Thanks for leading by example in ensuring that Gentle Reformation is able to address fiery topics with the fruit of the Spirit.
Now that the election is over,
The doctrine of the Word of God has come on hard times among professing Christians. This sad state of things is no surprise. At the very beginning of human history, Satan assaulted the Word of God, which is to insult the character of God. In so doing, the “father of lies” ushered mankind into spiritual ruin. Particularly sad in our day, though, is the fact that many professing Christians believe that they are honoring Christ by denying that God’s written Word, the Bible, is everything it claims to be in its self-attestation and self-authentication.
Are we to be congratulated for being a “post” society? The word “post” has come to take on a subtle, special significance when used as a prefix in the world of sociology, philosophy and therefore theology.
The term is used in a general way to indicate “afterward.” In history, the phrase “post-Reformation Europe” calls to mind a particular set of years and the ideas which have driven and defined it. But in our culture, the term “post” means not merely a chunk of history and the ideas which animate it. We use “post” as both a description of how things are and a prescription of how things should be. It is a comment on the movement of society, but also a self-congratulatory compliment on the particular direction in which we’re heading.
The sight is as common as it is heartbreaking. Parents arrive at a play area in the mall, a McDonald’s Playland, or a park. The kids in tow are eager to run and jump and laugh, and their parents are eager to ignore them. As the children play with each other, the parents play with their smartphones.
This past Monday marked the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe Vs. Wade decision, a decision heralded by many as a codification of our society’s social progress and a landmark stepping stone for more progress. Our culture’s movement in moral / ethical issues is a kind of progress. It’s the kind of progress one makes on a treadmill. There is the feeling but not the reality of forward movement.
How often have you read the news and wondered, perhaps aloud: “Has the world gone insane!?” The answer to that questions is Yes…Yes we have.
With this entry, I’ll begin a series of meditations upon the meaning and application of essential Calvinistic beliefs. I hope these thoughts will encourage all who read and be a particular encouragement to those grappling with Calvinism or wrestling with the claims of Christianity in general. (Note: Sorry for the formatting issues -I’m still learning!)
Calvinists subscribe to what are popularly called the Doctrines of Grace. These are summarized in five headings and planted in the acronym TULIP. This entry will deal with the T: Total Depravity.
An interlude in the blog series on Calvinism – here are wonderful, heart-felt and heart filling words regarding our Savior’s relationship to the Psalms –
“Here the language of the Bible comes to meet the very thoughts of our hearts before these can even clothe themselves in language and we recognize that we could not have expressed them better than the Spirit has expressed them for us . . . Our Lord himself, who had a perfect religious experience and lived and walked with God in absolute adjustment of his thoughts and desires to the Father’s mind and will, our Lord himself found his inner life portrayed in the Psalter and in some of the highest moments of his ministry borrowed from it the language in which his soul spoke to God, thus recognizing that a more perfect language for communion with God cannot be framed.”
– taken from “Songs from the Soul” preached by Geerhardus Vos in 1902. The sermon can be found in Grace and Glory: Sermons Preached in the Chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary, The Banner of Truth Trust,Carlisle,PA: 1994.
The last (and first!) entry ended with a plea to consider the claims of Calvinism for whatever biblical truth they may represent and expound. This next series of entries will examine (relatively briefly) the major theological claims of Calvinism and consider what these claims “look like” when they are lived out, i.e. truly believed.
But before we get to the particulars, let’s be reminded from Scripture of the nature of theological belief. I’m currently preaching through the book of James – talk about a book with a sanctifying sting! James continually puts before us the nature of true faith in Christ. True Christian belief is demonstrated by actions in accord with the doctrine believed. Anything less is self-deceit – 1:22.
For the Christian heart, to know who God is and what He has done in Christ is to act in accord with that truth. Thus, in Scripture, commands from God (the imperatives) always proceed from doctrinal statements about God (the indicatives). The indicatives often segue to the imperatives with the simple word “therefore.” Consider Romans 12:1 as a classic example. The command in 12:1 is based on all that precedes it in chapters 1-11. The indicatives imply and demand the imperatives. Biblical doctrine […]