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Archive | Theology

Theology in View: The “What If” Problem (Part One)

Are we currently living in something like The Matrix? Can we know? And if not, then doesn’t agnosticism eat away at certainty?

In this first video, the problem of all-consuming agnosticism is set up, leaving us wondering if knowledge is forever crushed under the weight of ignorance.

If you find these helpful and enjoyable, please share with your friends.  In order to reach everyone who likes Gentle Reformation, Facebook charges fees in order to boost posts.  But if you share it, that helps circumvent it 🙂

 

Speaking of the Spirit

Reformed Christians are often accused, perhaps rightly so, of not emphasizing the person and work of the Holy Spirit sufficiently enough. As the Father has sent Jesus as our God-man mediator, from worship to evangelism our focus is to call people to come to the Father through the Son. We speak of being Christ-centered in our worship and preaching, as we should.  Yet often we can slip into “binitarian” tendencies instead of practicing a robust Trinitarian faith by not recognizing fully enough our dependency on the Spirit of God. Simply put, we fail to speak of the Spirit like we ought.

J.I. Packer has done a great deal to help us in the Reformed faith honor the Spirit’s role, most notably from his book on the third person of the Trinity entitled Keeping in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God. However, note how his familiar “hidden floodlight” illustration could be easily misunderstood if taken out of context.

I remember walking to a church one winter evening to preach on the words ‘he shall glorify me,’ seeing the building floodlit as I turned the corner, and realizing that this was exactly the illustration my ministry needed. When flood-lighting is […]

Hezekiah My Hero

I’ve just finished reading through 1 & 2 Kings, in Hebrew, last Friday. For the sins of King Manasseh, the nation of Judah was finally thrust out into the judgment of Exile to Babylon.

Hezekianic Analysis

Some weeks ago I did a blog entitled ‘Humbling Hezekiahs’. I had been reminded at that time about the danger of pride in leaders, particularly after times of successes. Re-reading the life and times of Hezekiah has given me a fresh more positive take on his reign – I’ve recently declared in church ‘Hezekiah is my new hero!’

Hezekianic Text

The bit of the text by which I was struck like a thunderbolt was 2 Kings 18.3:

“And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David, his father, had done. He removed the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).”

There is far more to Hezekiah than initially meets the gaze. His reign concluded in a downfall caused by pride, when self-interest finally trumped and eclipsed a career […]

Introducing “Theology in View.” A New Video Blog By Yours Truly

So here we go.

I’m beginning a new project, one that involves much scribbling and theology.  Yes.  That’s right.  A video blog designed to communicate theology in a short, fresh, generally tasty, and slightly humorous fashion.

I have many topics I would like to cover, but as you can imagine, the process of coordinating voice to drawings is, well, not terribly easy.  So I hope to kick these out a couple times a month.  But no promises.  Some will be more theologically advanced (like the one here).  And some will be more elementary.  I will probably call them “Theology for Noobs.”

Naturally, I would covet any help you might toss my way, such as sharing the video on Facebook (or subscribing on YouTube).  To the degree that people find these enjoyable and helpful, to that same degree I will feel compelled to draw little Reformed stick men!

 

 

The Shoddiness of The Shack

With all the attention given to the movie The Shack, it would be good to take a careful look at the book it is based upon. The author, William P. Young, wrote The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Newbury Park, Calif.: Windblown Media) in 2007. Below is review of the book by Dr. Michael LeFebvre, pastor of Christ Church Reformed Presbyterian in Brownsburg, Indiana, and author of Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms and Exploring Ecclesiastes: Joy That Perseveres.

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The Shack is a modern day allegory of the Christian life. Like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, William Young’s The Shack is a vivid tale designed to teach the reader about the way of salvation. But Young’s vision, while helpful in points, ultimately presents a different kind of salvation than that of Bunyan’s classic.

Bunyan’s pilgrim labors under the burden called “sin,” and he only finds freedom from its guilt by receiving forgiveness at the cross. Young’s protagonist is cast in a more postmodern image. The Shack’s central character is Mackenzie Phillips, whose struggle is not with sin and guilt; Mack’s burden is “the great sadness”—the accumulated emotional baggage from his abusive childhood and the death of his daughter. Rather than seeking his own forgiveness, Mack’s […]

The Beatitudes of the Heart: A Brief Reflection

Blessed are those who feel the weight of their spiritual need.
Blessed are those whose hearts break over sin and evil.
Blessed are the gentle and humble of heart.
Blessed are those who are thirsty and hungry for righteousness.
Blessed are those who love to shower forth mercy.
Blessed are those whose hearts are unstained.
Blessed are those who mend relationships with the salve of peace.
Blessed are those who suffer while following Christ.

It’s such a simple observation, but when I write out The Beatitudes in my own words, wanting to feel what is being said afresh, I am struck by how heart-centered they truly are.  Rather than revolving around codes of dress or some other external manifestation, Christ plows deep into the soul of man, right into our beating hearts.  It is all about attitudes; and affections; and dispositions; the very deepest; the kind that not only swirl in the center but center on the whole- man in his totality.

It is the very best kind of focus.

I am also struck by another simple observation.  God wants these realities to constitute the sum total of his people.  Everyone is to be truly happy as they reflect and embody a goodness that is inherently sublime.  One might here think of Paul’s words […]

The Antidote To Evolution

Over recent weeks I’ve been preaching, for the second time, through the opening verses of the Book of Genesis. Last Lord’s Day I delivered my first sermon on the first day. In my second point, I was defending the Mosaic account from the error of the ‘Framework Hypothesis.’ In doing so, for the very first time, I felt with intense force, both the folly and falsehood of adopting such an erroneous position (attractive though it may seem for those who want to dodge the bullet of the creation-science debate).

There surely is little doubt, like most dangerous half-truths, that Moses presents the material of the original Creation in a highly structured, schematized way. Yet, on his part, that neither implies the unhistorical nature of the account, or that the details of each day, or the times the bible allots to them, do not correspond precisely to the truth or order of the facts. In reality, quite the opposite is the case: the Holy Spirit, through Moses, has important lessons to teach us, in the material contained in Genesis 1, about the nature and character of God, and the methods by which He has worked and still works.

Planned Order

Chief among these is […]

So You Want to Start a Book Club

Or at least I do. In fact, this year I’ve put out the call to my local church, assembling into one glorious band of reading brothers all those who have shown interest, or even partial interest, seeing how I’m not above cajoling the hesitant.

I’ve never done this before. Nor have I been a part of one. So it’s uncharted territory. But it sounds like fun.

Here’s how I envision it (and perhaps such visions of grandeur will inspire someone in another local body of believers to start a book club). I imagine us men tackling a book a month. The text could be political in nature, or theological, or cultural, or historical or whatever. No door stoppers. No arcane manuscripts from days medieval. Just good, thought-provoking books that not only challenge the mind, but sharpen the spirit. Or simply elicit joy.

I then imagine us sitting around together, once a month, like Oxford dons ornamented with cigars and golden drinks. As the evening waxes long, and as the shadows from the suit of armor in the corner deepen, we continue to pontificate into the night, solving the world’s problems and cracking the deep mysteries of life.

So that’s basically the format. […]