Thursday, July 31, 2008


---by Andrew Thompson

An Introduction
The doctrine of the Trinity is often misunderstood. Explaining it in simple terms is difficult, if not impossible, and even when explained, the doctrine defies our full understanding. It reaches beyond our mental limits. At the same time, it is completely essential and central to our Christian understanding of God. Whether we consciously consider it or not, our understanding of the Trinity deeply affects how we live as Christians. This is especially evident in the context of the Christian community gathered in worship. This paper will focus on the question, "How trinitarian is our worship?" and look at some ways that trinitarianism might be expressed in worship. To explore this question, I will consider and then contrast the views of two different authors, James Torrance, who is professor emeritus of systematic theology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and James Wm. McClendon Jr. who is the (now late) Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. However, before we compare these authors' viewpoints on worship, it would be good to provide some basic framework for conversation by briefly discussing the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Trinity
Trinity is the idea that God is triune, meaning that the one divine nature is a unity of three persons -- and that God is revealed as three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is one divine essence which cannot be separated, yet each person is distinct. When each person acts, all are involved in each action. For example, when Jesus healed people, the Father and the Spirit were both fully involved, even though those actions may have been attributed to Jesus. In the same way, when the Father raised Christ from the dead, both the Son and Spirit were participants in that act. We must not divide the members against one another. It would be incorrect to speak as though the members were at cross purposes to each other. No; there are three persons who share one will. Furthermore, each person in the Trinity is constituted in relation to the other. The God-essence is one of relationship. The very being of each member is based on relationship with the other members. For example, the Father is the Father because he is the Father to the Son. There is complete interdependence and interpenetration. God is relationship. This is quite different from our usual Western way of thinking. Since this definition pushes beyond conventional parameters of thought and reason, we must be careful not to distort things by trying to make our definition fit into easier or more familiar categories. For example, we must not think of God tri-theisticly, that is to say, we cannot define God as three gods under one title. God is one. Neither may we think of God as one god in three modes. God is not schizophrenic; God is not the Father one day, the Son another day and the Holy Spirit the day after that. No, each member exists and functions simultaneously, in perfect union one with another. God is completely one; yet each member is distinct.

While the word "trinity" appears nowhere in the Bible, a basic trinitarian formula of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is found in several places, including Matt. 28:18, 2 Cor. 13:14, Eph. 4:4-7, 1 Pet. 1:2 and Jude 20-21. Furthermore, the idea is consistent with both Jesus' words and Jesus' actions, and with New Testament discussion of the Holy Spirit. While a full examination of the biblical basis for the Trinity would be outside the scope and space of this paper, perhaps it will suffice to say that every author this paper will discuss shares a similar, orthodox view of the Trinity. They differ only in their definitions of worship and in the degree to which their definitions have integrated the doctrine of the Trinity.

What Is Worship?
According to James McClendon, "Worship is the practice of interactive creaturely response to what God does and requires and promises: it is neither human manipulation nor God-magic, but it is two-sided conversation, dialogue, with the God of Grace."(1) Closely linked with this definition is his idea of reciprocal knowing.(2) This definition of worship is a two-way, interaction with God. Worship is not simply something we do for God out of obedience, or to God to cause God to act; rather, worship is something we do with God. Our knowing God in worship is not simply a knowing of, but a very personal knowing. It is not "knowing" like we might say, "I know the President of the United States." -- meaning we know who the president of the United States is; we know his name and his face. It is more like the knowing you might claim if you were a longtime friend and confidant of George W. Bush. If you grew up in the same neighborhood, shared many of the same friends; if he invited you over for dinner at his house and asked your advice and you both shared your hurts and hopes with each other, perhaps then you could say you know him in a way similar to the knowing we share with God in worship. That is the knowing that we share with God. We know God and God knows us in worship.

It is also important to remember that McClendon includes a strong emphasis on the communal aspect of worship. This communal aspect of worship takes its fullest form in McClendon's discussion of the Lord's Supper. On the meal he writes:

The meal is about forgiveness ("blood shed for forgiveness of sins"); it is a meal about solidarity with Christ and one another ("my body"); it is a thanksgiving meal ("giving thanks, he broke it"); it is a future-regarding or eschatological meal ("until he comes").(3)

Then expanding on the theme of solidarity he writes:

Such union with Jesus is re-membering, it is reconstitution, being made part of the whole. In it we are re-united, we are re-membered one to another as his members.(4)

McClendon categorizes the Lord's Supper as re-membering act. However, is important for us to note that in his choice of wording that McClendon is not adopting simply a Zwinglian understanding of the Lord's supper (that the Lord's Supper is primarily memorial). McClendon's definition does not limit the presence of Christ in communion. Rather, the concept of reciprocal knowing would have us understand that the risen Christ is truly present with us at the table. As we commune with Christ, it is Christ who re-members us by his presence. In communion, we are united both with Christ (to himself) and by Christ (to each other). In worship, the risen Christ meets with us and in him we are transformed. We know God and God knows us.

James Torrance defines worship this way, "Worship is the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son's communion with the Father."(5) According to this definition, worship finds its focus in the priesthood of Christ. Christ, by the Spirit, enables our participation in the triune life of God. He takes our faults and failures, sanctifies them by his own atoning work on the cross and offers them perfectly to the Father. He gives the perfect worship to God that we have failed to give. I suppose we could say that Christ carries us in worship. In this way, worship is not our activity, but Christ's. Rather, as we worship in our own imperfect and inadequate way, through the Spirit we participate in Christ's perfect worship eternally given to the Father.

However, in worship we not only give, we also receive. Torrance uses the Latin phrase (from Calvin's writing) mirifica commutatio, "wonderful exchange" to talk about this. In worship our sin is exchanged for Christ's holiness. Worship is saturated with grace. We do not deserve to approach God in worship, but by the saving work of Christ, through the Spirit, we not only draw near to God, we enter into the very center of the divine interrelationship. Through Christ, we receive back from God made-whole versions of the broken lives we offer.

In worship we stand before God, but we do not stand alone. Christ stands before us and around us. Nor do we as individuals stand before God alone. We stand alongside all whom Christ has called as his body -- a holy nation of believers that stretches beyond all boundaries of geography and time. Worship comes out of community; we must not think of it individualistically.

From these understandings Torrance writes about the Lord's Supper as:

. . .the supreme expression of all worship. It is the act in which the risen and ascended Lord meets us at his table, in the power of the Spirit, to bring his passion to our remembrance and to draw us to himself that we may share his communion with the Father and his intercession for the world.(6)

According to Torrance, the Lord's Supper is the central act of worship. In and through the bread and wine we meet with Christ, we are reminded of his saving work and we are carried into Christ's own relationship with the Father and Christ's ongoing work in the world. In those moments, the boundaries of space and time grow thin and we see, taste and touch -- even partake in -- the eternal relational essence of the Triune God.

Comparing the Two Views
McClendon and Torrance agree on many things. Both see worship as an interaction between God and humanity. Both hold the cooperate aspect of worship in high regard. However, I believe that there is an important distinction to be made between the two definitions of worship:

McClendon's definition revolves around the idea of dialogue; Torrance's definition revolves the idea of participation. McClendon sees worship as close personal interaction (reciprocal knowing) shared between God and the worshiping community. Torrance sees worship as participation, through the Spirit, in Christ's communion with the Father. McClendon's definition sees worship as happening between the worshiping community and God, but there is no particular focus on the interrelationship between the members of the Trinity. Torrance's definition sees worship as something that happens within the Trinity which the Christian community gathered for worship joins in. While this admittedly is an over generalization, because it does not fully engage the idea of knowing that McClendon uses, it could be said that worship as dialogue happens outside the Trinity, between the Godhead and the Christian community, while worship as participation happens first inside the Trinity, with the worshiping community being involved in the divine interrelationship.

Torrance categorizes views on worship under two headings: unitarian and trinitarian.(7)These categories, I think, are very helpful in this discussion. He defines unitarian worship as this: "what we do before God."(8) He contrasts that with his definition of trinitarian worship as:

. . .participating in union with Christ, in what he has done for us once and for all, in his self-offering to the Father, in his life and death on the cross. It also means participating in what he is continuing to do for us in the presence of the Father and in his mission from the Father to the world.(9)

The emphasis in trinitarian worship is not on ourselves and our own action; it is on Christ and Christ's action on our behalf. Trinitarian worship is not about our response to God. Worship happens just fine without our involvement, because worship is at the center of the Triune interrelationship. Christ is the great and perfect worshiper. To use an illustration, the perfect party is already going on, and we, though unworthy of inclusion, have been declared worthy and have been invited to join in the celebration. We attend wearing someone else's name tag. It is not about us. By extension then, it is most certainly, not about me.

Using these categories, James McClendon's definition of worship sounds to me more unitarian than trinitarian. It fails to fully integrate the doctrine of the Trinity. McClendon's emphasis on " interactive creaturely response" and "dialogue" places too much focus on our own action and not enough focus on the work of Christ.

(to be continued)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Spirit of Revival...continuing

and, aside from Dr Sproul's cessationism, the 5th part is good.

Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality

Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against love by daring to inquire into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of God… This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality. But in sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the absence of the Holy Spirit.

Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be.

“Try the spirits” is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church (1 John 4:1). We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the genuine… To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world.

~ A.W. Tozer

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Spirit of Revival

When I posted the links to Jonathan Edwards' classic work here:

it seems that Tim Challies was also getting ready to post something that should be very beneficial for the church here:

He says:

"At the Ligonier blog we're serializing a great bit of writing from R.C. Sproul. He writes about revival and how we can distinguish between true and false revival. It is a great read when so much talk about supposed revival is in the news."

Charismatics....are you reading\listening?!?!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Amos for Americans

"Culture is always driven by cultus (worship), and you can't get worship wrong and get anything else right long term." ~ Doug Wilson

read the rest here:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The Sociology of Missions ---by Dr. George Grant

The last mandate of Christ to His disciples—commonly known as the Great Commission—was to comprehensively evangelize the whole the world. He said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The implications of this mandate are revolutionary and have literally shaped the course of world history. Jesus asserted that all authority in heaven is His (Psalm 103:19). The heights, the depths, the angels, and the principalities are all under His sovereign rule (Psalm 135:5-7). But all authority on earth is His as well (Psalm 147:15-18). Man and creature, as well as every invention and institution, are under His providential superintendence (Psalm 24:1). There are no neutral areas in all the cosmos that can escape the authoritative regency (Colossians 1:17).

On that basis Christ says, believers all across the wide gulf of time, are to continually manifest His Lordship—making disciples in all nations by going, baptizing, and teaching. This mandate is the essence of the New Covenant, which in turn, is just an extension of the Old Covenant: Go and claim everything in heaven and on earth for the everlasting dominion of Jesus Christ (Genesis 1:26-28).

It was this mandate that originally emboldened Christ’s disciples to preach the Gospel—first in Jerusalem and Judea, then in Samaria, and finally in the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). It was this mandate that sustained the faithful church through generations of hardship, persecution, calamity, and privation—provoking it to offer light and life to those ensnared in the miry clay of darkness and death. It was this mandate that sent explorers like Columbus, Balboa, da Gama, Magellan, and Cabot out across the perilous uncharted seas. And ultimately, it was this mandate that became the catalyst for a remarkable resurgence of missionary efforts—both in word and in deed—that followed on the heels of the great European expansion and colonization during the nineteenth century.

Just as no corner of the globe was left untouched by the explorers, soldiers, merchants, and colonists, the selfless and sacrificial efforts of missionaries left virtually no stone unturned either. Peoples everywhere were not only gloriously converted spiritually, they also tasted the abundant benefits of Christian civilization. And, chief among those benefits of course, was a new respect for the dignity of every human life—a respect that was entirely unknown anywhere in the world until the advent of the Gospel.

As missionaries moved out from Christendom to the “uttermost parts of the earth” they were shocked to discover all the horrors of untamed heathenism. They found abortion all too prevalent, infanticide all too commonplace, abandonment all too familiar, and euthanasia all too customary. They were confronted by the specters of endemic poverty, recurring famine, unfettered disease, and widespread chattel slavery—which the Christian West had only recently abolished. Cannibalism, ritual abuse, patricide, human sacrifice, sexual perversity, petty tyranny, paternalistic exploitation, live burials, exterminative clan warfare, and genocidal tribal vendettas all predominated.

Again and again, they had to affirm in the clearest possible way—in both word and deed—that Jesus Christ is the only perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world and that through Him had come the death of death (Romans 5:6-18).

Most of the missionaries knew that such a liberating message would likely be met with strident opposition. And it was. Especially toward the end of the great missionary era--during the sunset of Victorianism—missionaries were often forced into conflicts with Europeans and North Americans who subscribed to the Enlightenment notions of Darwinism, Mercantilism, and Pragmatism. As these ideas took a higher and higher profile at home, leaders in government and academia—and gradually even in the church—began to increasingly believe that the vast difference between Christian culture and pagan culture was actually not rooted in religion but in sociology and race. So, Christian soldiers stationed in British colonies, for example, were often reprimanded for attending the baptisms of native converts because as representatives of the government, they were obligated to be “religiously neutral.” Thus, missionaries found it increasingly difficult to persuade the Western governments to abolish heathen customs and impose the rule of humanitarian law.

Thankfully, the vast majority of the missionaries on the field held the line against such latitudinarianism. They continued to sacrifice. They continued to care for the hurting. They continued to succor the ailing. They continued to value the weak. And they continued to stand for the innocent.

As missionaries circled the globe, penetrated the jungles, and crossed the seas, they preached a singular message: light out of darkness, liberty out of tyranny, and life out of death. To cultures endemic with terrible poverty, brutality, lawlessness, and disease, those faithful Christian witnesses interjected the novel Christian concepts of grace, charity, law, medicine, and the dignity of life. They overturned despots, liberated the captives, and rescued the perishing. They established hospitals. They founded orphanages. They started rescue missions. They built almshouses. They opened soup kitchens. They incorporated charitable societies. They changed laws. They demonstrated love. They lived as if people really mattered. Wherever missionaries went, they faced a dual challenge: confront sin in men's hearts and confront sin in men's cultures.

Thus, the nineteenth century missions movement was more than simply a great era of Biblical preaching. It was a great era of Biblical faith. The great pioneers of nineteenth century missions have thus left us a remarkable multi-faceted legacy. They were church-planters and culture-shapers. They were soul-winners and nation-builders. (And they were Calvinists! –my add.)

May we be so bold as to walk in their footsteps.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Even Moreso In Our Century

"When he falls upon his text, he interprets it, not at all desiring to know what the men of God who lived before him have said upon it, for they were of a 'darker age,' and he lives in the nineteenth century, that world of wonders, that region of wisdom, that flower and glory of all time." ~ Charles Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry, p. 206

Another Rotten Fruit of Free Will-ism

Providence and secularism---from by Peter J. Leithart

Reflecting on Thomas’s discussion of Jesus’ statement, “Without me you can do nothing,” Stephen A. Long writes, “If one denies that the human will receives not only its being, but also its natural motion and application to action from God, one makes the will a demiurgically unmoved first cause. Divine providence extends only so far as the divine causality. It follows that if the human will is not subject to divine power then naturally it is not subject to divine government. . . . Thus our free acts escape dependence upon God for their coming-to-be, it will be an axiomatic inference to separate the governance of these acts from the divine government. Human action then comes to represent a zone of being and good beyond the divine power and outside the scope of divine government.”

Thus, “the denial of God’s causality over human freedom . . . appears to be a critical intra-Catholic contribution to the evolution of secularist anti-theism in the moral realm. For what do we mean by secularism save the claim that the public order is outside the jurisdiction of divine rule? And what could more directly imply this posture than the claim that our free actions are outside the divine government?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Christians Are Not Pessimistic About The Future!

---by Craig Dumont

I am getting very tired of hearing apocalyptic scenarios of food and energy shortages set forth as though they are fact. In fact, I'm downright annoyed by the Christian community buying into this sinful mentality "hook, line and sinker," as my father would say. The Christian should know that there is no overpopulation problem. There is no shortage of food or energy or anything else for that matter. To parrot the media line is to speak out of faith and ignorance, not faith and facts!

To combat the anti-Christian worldview that accepts the fact that the world is running out of resources and time (Tim LeHay and Jack Van Impe please take note) I have put together several short pieces that will give you the real picture of where we are; a kind of "state of the world's resources" if you will.

USA has 4X's the total oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. God is Good . . . but our political leaders are something else.

From Yesterday's "Investor's Business Daily":

[We continue to hear the mantra] "We can't drill our way out of our energy crisis."

Actually, we can. As we've noted before, conservative estimates put the total amount of recoverable oil in conventional deposits at about 39 billion barrels. Offshore, we have another 89 billion barrels or so. In ANWR, 10 billion barrels.

In oil shale deposits, we have more than 1 trillion barrels of oil. In perspective, that's about four times the total reserves of Saudi Arabia. And if estimates of shale reserves as high as 2 trillion barrels prove true, we'll have about a 300-year supply of oil just from shale. This compares with current estimated total U.S. oil reserves of about 21 billion barrels.

ANWR alone is expected to yield 1 million barrels of oil a day. Now make the highly conservative assumption that we're able to get a like amount of oil from the other sources - for a total increase of 3 million to 4 million barrels of oil a day.

That's an enormous rise in oil output. Today, we produce just under 8 million barrels of oil a day from domestic sources. So we could, in effect, boost our energy output 50%, and thus our energy independence, by bringing an additional 4 million barrels of oil to thirsty world markets each and every day.

By the way, those calculations don't include the trillions and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas found in the same locations, which, along with nuclear power, could be used to fire our power plants.

From the "Thou shalt not bear false witness" file: Politicians mislead and try to stir up hostility towards oil companies and their management. But who are the real price-gougers?

From 1981 to 2006, the oil industry made $867 billion in profits. Yes, that's a lot. But over that same time, they paid total taxes of $1.2 trillion, Energy Department data show. And that doesn't include taxes of $519 billion paid to foreign countries.

So oil companies (owned by hundreds-of-thousands of Americans in the form of investments in stock) made billions (or about 8% return on investment, compared to 15% for computer companies) BUT THE GOVERNMENT HAULED IN ALMOST 2 TRILLION FROM OIL TAXES when you count both direct and indirect taxes. And with foreign gov't taxes included it jumps to almost 2.5 TRILLION Dollars in taxes!

How about a "windfall tax rebate" to every American. That would dwarf the current stimulus checks just mailed out!

China's Population Now Being Fed Higher Protein Diets Through The Nation's Own Beef Production! Brazilian Beef Benefits The Entire World!

From the livestock report, "The Stackyard News":

China looks set to overtake the European Union as the world's third largest beef producer according to figures produced by Meat and Livestock Commission's Economics department. Their latest publication, International Meat Market Review points out little of the extra Chinese production will hit the international market as it will be swallowed up by rising domestic demand. . . Argentina and Brazil also increased production . . . EU beef exports were significantly lower year-on-year as Brazilian supplies provided increased competition on the key Russian market.

China is dramatically raising their beef production, greatly reducing EU imports. Argentina and Brazil are exporting beef around the world, improving diets and lowering prices. Can you say "The future looks brighter for the world's hungry and malnurished!"

Even the United Nations now admits the world is getting better fed (Gee, I guess that "population bomb" scare really missed the mark!).

In a recent Food & Agriculture Report they note:

[I]ndividual food consumption rates (measured as Kcal/person/day) will continue to rise in developing countries. Citing the latest FAO assessment of undernourishment, the study reports that the percent of the world's undernourished has been dropping since the late 1960s. Projections of food consumption will continue to rise in developing countries over the next 30 years, moving from an average of 2626 kcal in the 1990s to nearly 3000 kcal in 2015. The average daily consumption rate in developing countries is expected to exceed 3000 kcal by 2030. The report also predicts that over the next 30 years more and more people will be living in countries with medium to high levels of individual food consumption. Associated with this rising level of consumption will be a diversification in the diet and subsequent improved nutrition.

On food production the United Nations report states that they are:

...relatively optimistic that, at the world level, there will be sufficient agricultural production to meet increases in demand over the next thirty years. By 2030, for example, crop production in developing countries is projected to be 70 percent higher than in the 1990s. . . The report indicates that while the predictions in the rate of annual growth in global crop production is expected to decrease over the next 30 years relative to those advances seen in the previous 30, it will still exceed the demand for increased agricultural production. With lower population growth and the gradual attainment of medium to high food consumption levels in most countries, crop productivity will continue to outpace the overall growth rate in the demand for food.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why Good Theology Matters!

---By Joel Miller

Many American Christians don't give one hoot—let alone two—about theology. Go no further than your average Christian bookstore to judge this for yourself. What shelves there are warp under a heavy load of "inspirational fiction." Packed spine-tight are the "Christian living" shelves. "Current Concerns" and "Prophecy" are likewise jammed to the rafters. Even the kids area looks robust—especially when compared to "theology."

That anemic little section usually has a volume or two by Francis Schaeffer, the obligatory copy of Knowing God by J.I. Packer, some R.C. Sproul if you're lucky, and a few unimportant dispensational theologians explaining why all the great theologians of Christendom are bad. Note the thin layer of dust on the tops of the tomes. Note the sparse traffic to the section. Note the blank stare on the face of the clerk when you ask if he has anything by O. Palmer Robertson, Arthur C. Custance, Loraine Boettner, or Cornelius Van Til.

Asking modern day Christians to read theology is almost like asking high-school English students to read Shakespeare—sure they should, but, oh, how they hate the idea. It's, like, hard and all that. But it's also, like, necessary and all that, too.

Theology is simply our understanding of God. All of us have a theology—some good, some bad, some just plain pitiful. As Christians, though, we must strive to have great theology. It is just part of knowing God. If we claim to "know" somebody, say a prospective mate, and we hold all sorts of erroneous, offbeat, or fuzzy formulations about who this 'Sally' might be, how would that play?

You get her movie tickets when she loves books; you learn to waltz, though she loves swing; you show up to Starbucks to walk her home from the job only to find out she works at Washington Mutual. Better find a new prospect and hope you bolster your brain files on this next one or it's bachelor days for you, bub.

God's the same way. If we have a bad theology we may find we're courting the wrong deity. Our own pet ideas of who God is are not good enough. We need an informed and adequate understanding of the object of our worship, devotion, and faith. That's how we court the right God. Writes Charlie Peacock, "developing truthful and comprehensive theologies is a way of responding with love to God."[1] God is not pleased by vacuous ideas of himself coming from his people—or worse, self-flattering or ego-stroking ideas of who God is.

God wants us to think of him as he is. I am that I am. That's his name. That should also be our thought process—taking God for who he says he is. Mainly, that means reading and learning Scripture (something most do with pathetic irregularity and woeful inadequacy). Next, that means reading good theologians, guys who spend a lot of time training to understand the nuances of Scripture.

Some object that Scripture is all they need (which, if they actually read it, sounds almost plausible), but these people often go to church to hear preaching, one of the foremost methods God has chosen to spread the word about who he is and what he expects from his people. Books of theology are just sermons on a page. You won't get to hear James Montgomery Boice preach; he's dead. But you can read his books, and I recommend you do. Ditto for others: Martyn Lloyd-Jones, R.J. Rushdoony, Greg Bahnsen, and more.

Studying theology also helps to keep a leash on our understanding of Scripture. You can go back and read theological writings that are nearly as old as the church. While tradition doesn't trump Scripture, it does help us keep on target with our understanding of it. If a teaching is entirely novel, chances are good it's bunk, and bogus ideas about God are dangerous.[2]

The theme in Charles Williams' excellent novel, Descent into Hell, is narcissism so complete it eventually leads the cupidity-struck individual "beyond Gomorrah," into hell. In the story, rather than pursuing a real woman, the historian Lawrence Wentworth begins fabricating an imaginary one, his ideal mate. He rejects reality and truth and adopts instead a fanciful lie. Trouble of course is that this "ideal" is just a projection and reflection of himself.

Eventually, this narcissistic passion runs so flush, so full, it engulfs Wentworth in a sort of hell, a place where only he exists. "He had believed that there would be for him a companion at the bottom of the rope who would satisfy him for ever, and now he was at the bottom, and there was nothing but noises and visions which meant nothing ... and he was drawn, steadily, everlastingly, inward and down through the bottomless circle of the void."[3]

While overly dramatic perhaps, this is the end result of trading truth for untruth. Only by accepting things as God presents them, including himself, do we escape such a fate. Our knowledge of God is only as good as our theology is true. If our theology is incomplete or wrong, we may not indeed be worshipping and serving the God of Scripture and instead simply following a projection of ourselves, the God of our dreams, not reality.

Good theology is speaking and thinking honestly about God, and, as people who claim to love and follow him, our aim should be to please the Lord with minds that reflect the truth about who he his as faithfully as possible.

1. Charlie Peacock, At the Crossroads (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1999), 75.

2. Thomas C. Oden, "On Not Whoring After the Spirit of the Age," No God But God, eds. Os Guinness and John Seel (Chicago: Moody, 1992), 189-203. This is a fabulous essay on the importance of cohesive, consistent theology.
3. Charles Williams, Descent into Hell (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, [1937] 1990), 220, 222.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The "Safe" Charles Spurgeon?

Many Arminian & Pelagian Pastors in America today have Charles Spurgeon's books on their bookshelves and would like to think of him as one of their heroes. But as usual, they don't go beyond the surface of their misconception to find what the great preacher actually believed and preached!

As in our day, Charles Spurgeon saw that one of the strongholds of Arminianism included the independent churches. Arminianism was a natural, God-rejecting, self-exalting religion and heresy. As Spurgeon believed, we are born Arminians by nature. He saw this natural aversion to God as encouraged by believing self-centered, self-exalting fancies. "If you believe that everything turns upon the free-will of man, you will naturally have man as its principal figure in your landscape." And again he affirms the remedy for this confusion to be true doctrine. "I believe that very much of current Arminianism is simply ignorance of gospel doctrine." Further, "I do not serve the god of the Arminians at all; I have nothing to do with him, and I do not bow down before the Baal they have set up; he is not my God, nor shall he ever be; I fear him not, nor tremble at his presence...The God that saith today and denieth tomorrow, that justifieth today and condemns the no relation to my God in the least degree. He may be a relation of Ashtaroth or Baal, but Jehovah never was or can be his name." Refusing to compromise the gospel in any way, he soundly refuted and rejected common attempts to unite Calvinism and Arminianism into a synthesized belief. Nor would he downplay the importance of the differences between the two systems.

Read the rest of the article here: