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Archive | Theology

Justification by Faith – Mark Seifrid

About ten years ago, Roman Catholicism was without a doubt the number one issue troubling me.  The question of authority, as well as the nature of justification, and especially how it relates to the warnings to persevere in Scripture, left me feeling unhinged.  My world was spinning, as I tried to work through the labyrinth of issues involved in those two subjects. 

Along the way, I was helped by a variety of sources.  Eric Svendsen, James White, John Piper, Robert L. Reymond, Van Til- they all played a pivotal role in grounding me.  Let us not forget Edwards’ profound handling of the subject of justification either (link).

Wrestling With Matthew 10:23

A good friend of mine recently called to ask me about a perplexing passage in Matthew.  We discussed the issue at some length, and I gave what I thought was a fair interpretation.  After some healthy give and take, he was like, “Yeah, I guess that makes sense.”  And that was it. 

But that wasn’t it.  I had that uncomfortable gnawing feeling, as if I had just made the incorrect call as a referee in a ball game.  And it stayed with me.  So I soon found myself pondering the issue while walking the mail, chewing and thinking, mulling over the text over and over again.  “What does it mean?”  I kept asking myself.  Round and round went the thoughts. 

It happened over my lunch break, while eating some oatmeal cookies at McDonalds (3 for a dollar!  Hard to beat!), when the answer hit me.  And it felt right… and it continues to feel right.

A Gentle Correction

I always enjoy reading Anthony Bradley, a WORLD magazine columnist.  Dr. Bradley, an Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at The King’s College in New York City as well as a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute, provides keen insights into the church and the impact of the culture upon it.  He is often called upon by the mainstream media to give his commentary on events of the day, particularly those involving racial matters.

Yesterday he had an intriguing article on how Christians producing hip-hop music often show more theological integrity and depth in their lyrics than most of the Contemporary Christian Music being produced.  Having listened to some examples, I agree.  I’ve heard some hip-hop songs with the Heidelberg Catechism and other doctrinal statements that are theologically rock-solid.

On the Other Side of Complexity: Christian Conviction in the Late Modern Age – Al Mohler

Dr. Al Mohler recently gave the fourth annual Gaffin Lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary, and I must say that it was absolutely brilliant.  Picking up a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes, “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity,” Dr. Mohler provides a penetrating analysis of Western thought.    

While some may have a hard time following his message at points, as he does stroll through the halls post-modernity and neo-orthodoxy, as well as modernism, highlighting not only the key thinkers, but their ideas, I suspect that most will still be able to grasp the main points of his lecture.

Trust me when I say this.  The last ten minutes are worth the price of admission.  His critique of fundamentalism, as well as evangelicalism, is powerful.  And for many, the antidote he proscribes will prove very surprising.

Bell’s Hells

Here at Gentle Reformation we have made the conscience decision not to engage in endless internet controversies and cyberspace name-calling.    Self-admittedly we are reluctant to put up our dukes, and we sigh deeply when in church courts (a more proper boxing arena than the internet) we are called upon to handle conflicts.  To that end we have declared in our guiding principles we will not cry “Wolf!” very often.  Yet I feel the need to do so today.

Rambling Reviews of an Audio Scavenger

I love a full MP3 player.  And last week, my MP3 player was pretty darn full.  Ah, yes, the simple pleasures in life!

So, yeah, I’ve listened to quite a few messages lately.  It’s been a strange mixture.  A little bit of everything.  Nothing life changing, exactly, but no downright duds either.  It’s for this reason I’m going to go with the shotgun approach today.  Not a slug, but buckshot.  So here we go.  Time to ramble.

The Justification Landscape – Reformed Forum

What I’m about to say isn’t hyperbolic:

I appreciated every single sentence uttered by Pastor Mark Garcia in this Christ the Center interview.

As someone who has been following the Federal Vision and New Perspective(s) on Paul controversies for some time now, I’ve listened to my fair share discussions.  Like that old Clint Eastwood flick, most could be labeled as either being good, bad or ugly.  And unfortunately, there’s been a lot of ugly. 

But let me tell ya, Pastor Garcia ain’t ugly.

Prayer as a Way of Walking in Love: A Personal Journey – Francis Chan

Pastor John Piper said that Francis Chan’s message at the 2010 National Conference was probably one of the most listened to talks in Desiring God Conference history.

That’s remarkable.  In some ways this surprises me.  But in other ways, it doesn’t at all. 

There will no doubt be some who feel this is a bad thing, as Francis Chan doesn’t adequately measure up to their standards of Reformed purity.  The popularity, they will suppose, stems from the ever increasing downgrading of Evangelicalism.    

But I, for one, very much like him.

An Arminian Conundrum

Let’s be honest, texts like 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 pose a challenge to the doctrine of unconditional election.  And Arminians love to remind Calvinists of this fact. 

Over the years, I’ve discussed theology with my fair share of free will theists.  While exploring the doctrines of sovereign grace, it usually takes, oh, about 3.2 minutes before one of the above passages is unsheathed.  I’ll point to the first chapter of Ephesians, and they’ll smile and point at 1 Timothy 2:4.  I’ll ask them to consider Romans 9, and they’ll promptly turn to 2 Peter.  Know what I’m talking about? 

Here a number of us Calvinists will try to explain what has come to be known as “The two wills of God.”  But if you’ve ever gone that route before, that is, address the difficulty head on, you know it’s a tough sell.  The Arminian scrunches his face and rolls his eyes and usually dismisses the notion.  “Sir,” he replies, “you’re grasping for straws.”

Desiring God Interview with Tim Keller

While situated in a black leather chair in the comfort of his living room, Pastor Tim Keller answers a host of questions about his life and latest book.  It’s an interesting hour and a half.  Everything from his conversion to his early ministry to the beginnings of Redeemer is discussed.  His mild manner and approachability are certainly evident throughout, which makes for a good listen.

In the second segment, which is approximately 45 minutes long, his newest book, “Generous Justice,” is taken up.  Issues including the nature of justice, social justice, and mercy ministry are unpacked with pastoral insight.  As a deacon, I’m very much interested in getting my hands on a copy.  I suspect many of you would likewise enjoy it as well.