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Archive | Theology

Browse Worthy: Tim Challies’ Visual Theology

Little by little over the past few years, Tim Challies, with the assistance of a graphic artist, has been building an impressive array of visually sharp diagrams, charts, and displays of Biblical truth. Called Visual Theology, these products range from quotes by famous Christians to lists of the Kings of Israel to a blueprint for the Old Testament tabernacle. These graphics are great for teaching or placing on a wall to remind others of God’s truth. They are available for downloads and he also has a book he published last year with many of them in it.

Tim caught my attention recently with a new one called The Order and Causes of Salvation and Damnation: An Infographic. As you can see below, It is a beautiful reproduction (the chart is offered in much higher resolution in different formats at the website) of John Bunyan’s original “ocular catechism” that traces the decrees of election and reprobation out in believers and unbelievers’ lives with Bunyan’s typical rich use of Scripture. I first learned of Bunyan’s drawing a few years ago while sitting under Derek Thomas, who led us through this work in an approach similar to the one found here. (I also learned that William Perkins had […]

Bigger Thoughts

“Shorter! Simpler! More punchy!” Whether you’re a journalist or a teacher or a pastor, there is a constant pressure to consolidate our communication. Pastors are taught that our sermons need to have a theme that can be easily expressed in one, simple sentence. Many people don’t read past headlines, so we strive to make those headlines catchy and clear. Twitter’s 140-character limit protects us from rambling.

While these are not negative things in and of themselves (most pastors still need to work on simplicity and clarity in their preaching!), it is part of a bigger cultural force making deep thought and deep communication more difficult and foreign. The technological and societal pressures to communicate simply often lead to simplicity and facileness. By and large, we don’t read deeply, so we don’t think deeply and cannot communicate deeply. And the cycle continues. As someone who favors brevity over profundity, I freely acknowledge that I write as a culprit more than a solver.

Thankfully, Scripture shows a better way.

Necessarily, Freely, or Contingently

When God ordains the reprobation of a sinner, some believe that this choice must mean that God cannot greatly love the reprobate in history.  If God passes over an individual, it must follow that God cannot entreat that sinner to repent, or love that sinner, or send Christ for that sinner. But this is far too simplistic a notion. When God ordains all things, He exhibits His character in all the varieties of life, truly and really. The ordination rolls out and consists of a wide matrix of secondary causes that dare not be emptied of their significance. It includes a demonstration of God’s love. It includes His sending Christ for them. It includes the depths of God’s goodness, and condescension, and genuine yearnings for them to repent.

But it does not stop there. It likewise includes the sinner’s obstinate refusal, stiff necked rebellion, and awful spurning of Christ. And lest one think this unbelief is little more than the marionetting of a puppet, or the programming of a robot, God ordains the secondary causes to fall out necessarily, freely, and contingently. The sinner does what He wants.¹ And he is really confronted with God’s patience and goodness. All this by […]

Browse Worthy: The Nashville Statement

Nashville Statement | Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood issued a declaration consisting of fourteen articles addressing the gender and marriage issues of our day. Called the Nashville Statement, it was originally signed by a group of influential evangelical and Reformed men and women. You may have seen that it is receiving a great deal of attention.  Here are some interesting perspectives as you consider not only what it says, but its tone, purpose, and effectiveness.

Rosaria Butterfield | Why I Signed the Nashville Statement

The author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert explains why she believed it was important that she sign this document. She highlights the need for the church to continue to speak prophetically in our age.

Al Mohler | I signed the Nashville Statement. It’s an expression of love for same-sex attracted people.

The president of Southern Baptist Seminary explains the intent of the document is to offer clarity in an age of confusion. With counter declarations like the Denver Statement already being made, Mohler reminds the church of the cultural divide it faces and urges it to rally around Biblical truth.

Rod Dreher | Is the Nashville Statement a Surrender?

The promoter of the Benedict Option, Dreher […]

3GT Episode 51: Heretic! Heretic!

From a question that arose during family worship, the prof turns the pastor and parishioner’s attention to II Peter 2 and asks how to identify a heretic. For it is a term that is often used wrongly (Luther was called one!) but should not be thrown around lightly. The parishioner immediately zooms in on the Trinity, and the pastor makes a distinction between heresy and a heretic. The guys focus on other key doctrines that, if done wrongly, constitute heresy. From there they highlight when a person should be deemed a false prophet. Then they even name some names as they point to a few of our modern day heretics!

You will want to take a listen and learn with the 3GTers how to sniff out a heretic!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/3gt-episode-51.mp3

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You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!

Browse Worthy: The Slippery Slope

Some helpful articles have appeared recently discussing how ministers, churches, and denominations can start the downhill slide down into theological liberalism that destroys evangelical faith, personal holiness, and ecclesiastical integrity. The following posts are helpful mind-sharpeners on this issue.

The Slippery Slope and the Jesus Box | Richard Philips

Dr. Philips tracks a former PCA minister’s (and the congregation he pastors) long descent into endorsing homosexuality and denying Christ’s penal substitution. He points to the first steps down this slope, which he identifies as compromising Biblical authority and accepting women’s ordination.

The Slippery Slope: An Iron Law of Theological Declension? | William Evans

In response to Philips, Dr. Evans questions whether these are truly the first steps and wonders if starting the slide down the slippery slope is not more complicated. He raises the question of whether the competing authority of the culture with Christ and how the Bible is being interpreted are where slides begin.

Double Black Diamonds: Navigating the Slopes | Jay Harvey

In another article interacting with this subject on Reformation21, two particular types of slippery slopes, that of hermeneutical fallacy and the other of fear, are described.

Avoiding Logical Fallacies in Theology | Justin Taylor

In this archived article, Justin Taylor reminds us of how a slippery slope argument […]

Addendum on Resisting Redefinition

I’ve been thinking a little more on the need to guard against the casual adoption of the language of the PC establishment.

What I have found really helpful in thinking about this question is some recent reading about Martin Luther’s ‘Theology of the Word’. The German Reformer, pointing to biblical texts like Genesis 1.3, Romans 10.17 or 2 Corinthians 4.6, believed that the Word of God, as Carl Truman summarizes, “not only describes reality but also determines reality: all reality,” in ‘Luther and the Christian Life’ (p.80).

From the point of view of the Gospel, it is good to ask the question, why is it necessary and important to resist redefinition? Can I suggest that it would be good to bear in mind some or all of the following reasons?

First, because the chief instrument Satan uses to promote unbelief and undermine the truth, is the lies he tells. One example might be the lie of ‘same-sex marriage.’ In reality there is no such thing. Marriage is between one man and one woman. This linguistic redefinition is a false construction of the PC establishment which bears no relation to reality before God.

Second, because this blinding power of words is only removed by the […]

The Troubled Thoughts of a Blind Persecutor

In the early hours of morning, when the sun was beginning to stretch its gaze across the dusty roads of Damascus, Saul sat silent, blind to the eastern glow. His companions sat nearby in the stillness, regarding him with uncertainty.

“Do you want something to eat?”

“No,” said Saul.

“It would be good for you to strengthen yourself.”

Saul made a small motion with his hand.

“Were you able to sleep?”

“A little.”

They sat.

“I have bread here. Do you want some?”

“No,” said Saul.

The companions unrolled the bread from a long strip of cloth and began to eat, saying nothing further.

Saul shifted. He felt the stiff edge of rolled parchments in his garments. They were the letters from the high priest. In all the dizzying events of the past day, he had forgotten they were there. While staring at a wall, his eyes blank and lost, Saul felt the parchments, scraping a finger against a stiff curve. His heart grew heavy and his mind continued to reel.

His companions silently watched as they ate.

——-

It is a wonder to think what Saul of Tarsus thought during the days of his blindness after the Lord had visited him. While the mysteries of the heart remain hidden under lock and key, […]

3GT Episode 39: The Lord’s Presence in His Supper

Aaron wants to know. He quotes from the Westminster Confession of Faith and (after being warned about trespassing on Kyle’s other podcast) asks, “How is Christ present in communion?” After defining the four different views and giving Aaron an A on his test of them, a vigorous discussion on Christ’s human nature ensues. Where is his physical body now? How do we “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood” as Jesus said in John 6:53? How do we “really and indeed” feed upon him as the Confession says? The guys chew upon this perplexing mystery, and offer up a slice of the Reformed answer to it!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/3gt-episode-39.mp3

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You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!

References Cited

Keith Mathison, Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper

Peter Martyr Vermigli, The Oxford Treatise and Disputation

Martin Chemnitz, The Two Natures in Christ

Thomas Houston, The Lord’s Supper: Its Nature, Ends, and Obligations

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion