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Virtual Orphans

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.   

Reverse Progress – Total Depravity, pt. 3

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.

Totaled Image Bearers

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.

Priceless words about the Psalms

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.

Coming to Grips with Calvinism, part 2: Transformational Truth

           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 […]

Coming to Grips with Calvinism, part 1: A Protestant’s (ongoing) Reformation

I’m deeply thankful to have been invited to write for this site.  I thought I’d begin by introducing myself in light of the site’s name and nature.

Writing for a blog entitled “Gentle Reformation” is a bit of an historical irony for me.  During my first decade or so of life in Christ, the terms “gentle” and “reformed” did not really apply.

When I first learned of Calvinism in college, I immediately and vehemently opposed it.  I thought it taught a puppet master God, a fatalistic view of history and an unnecessarily dark view of humanity.  I hated what Calvin taught.  True, I had never read Calvin, but that did not deter my zeal!

I read just enough of the Reformer to feel justified in my preformed conclusions.  Brimming with what I deemed righteous indignation, I felt I had found my purpose, the great contribution I’d make to Christ’s church.  I announced to one of my college roommates that my life’s mission was to debunk Reformed Theology.