A Hermeneutic of Suspicion

Proverbs 3:5 Do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!
Isaiah 41:10 …Your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray…
Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
Isaiah 65:2 I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own thoughts.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it?

Opening Salvo on the Blood Prohibition

You must not eat meat that has its blood still in it. Genesis 9:4

Background

One of my preaching practicums had us select passages to preach on a doctrinal or ethical subject, and the passages were up for grabs among the students. Through my own choice (thinking I’d “challenge” myself) and what my peers had narrowed in options, I ended up with Leviticus 17. Preaching in the Old Testament? Sure. Preaching from Leviticus? Definitely more challenging. But I had not ever really grappled with the “blood ban” before, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. I hope to do a series of looking at different aspects of the Blood Prohibition.

Why the Blood Prohibition?

The “blood ban” is actually a fantastic opportunity for the student of Scripture to stretch themselves in the whole discipline of theology. Following the likes of Geerhardus Vos, true theology is a multi-discipline process, and looking at the Blood Prohibition allows one to utilize all of their skills. First, there is the exegetical component. Continue reading

Brakel on Typology

Wilhelmus a Brakel (1635 – 1711) was a prominent Dutch theologian and pastor at the end of the High Orthodoxy in the Netherlands. His magnum opus is The Christian’s Reasonable Service, which is (overall) a marvelous combination of dogmatic and practical theology, certainly in the vein of the Nadere Reformatie tradition. For excellent treatments of the Dutch churchman see Bartel Elshout’s resource-rich site.

Brakel is very careful in describing typology. He argues that, unless clear boundaries are given, every star, tree and worm will turn into a type of Christ at the hands of less-than-skilled interpreters. So he lays down the following rules for a type: “If one is to designate something as a type, the following must be true:”

  1. It must have been appointed by God to be a type.
  2. Types had been given to the church of the Old Testament in order that during that time frame she would thereby look unto Christ and believe in Him.
  3. Types were a necessary component of Old Covenant worship such that those who did not use these types for their intended purpose were in sin.

“When these three criteria are absent, however, one may not appoint or designate something as a type” (Volume IV, p. 382).

At first glance, these seem like excellent rules. Continue reading

Disagreeing with Calvin

…is not wise to do very often, but it is important. It is not wise, because so often Calvin proves to be right. I can remember Bob Godrey, president of Westminster Seminary CA, talking about how the older he got, the more often he found Calvin to be proven to be correct on various exegetical, theological, or ecclesiastical issues. David Steinmetz has talked about the superiority of pre-critical exegesis, and Calvin’s reflections are remarkably biblical and pastoral. It is rarely wise to disagree with the Reformer.

But it is also important to be able to disagree with Calvin. Continue reading

Adoption in Scripture

Time Reference Category
Eternity past in the counsel of the Holy Trinity Ephesians 1:4-5

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

Adoption according to unconditional election based on God’s choice in eternity past
History of redemption Romans 9:4

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.

A temporal adoption based on the Mosaic Covenant
Incarnation Galatians 4:4-5

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Adoption corresponding to salvation in general based on Christ’s redemption
Individual experience in human history Romans 8:15

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Adoption applied individually as conversion or regeneration
The Future Day of the Lord and Second Coming Romans 8:23

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Glorification of people and creation as the fulfillment of God’s election (see top)

 

Every instance of υἱοθεσία (“adoption”) in Scripture.  (Acts 7:21 is actually ἀνaipεὼ, “to take up.”)  Based off of reflections from here.

Ridderbos Uses Circumcision to Understand the Law for Christians

Ridderbos_PaulOutlineTheologyRidderbos reflects on “how much Christ, the law, the Spirit, and love constitute a unity may appear from a comparison of the following parallel pronouncements.” I found his insights illuminating, and tried to reconstruct some of what he shows below.

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Galatians 6:15-16 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision but a new creation.  And as for all who walk by this rule [= canon], peace and mercy be upon them,
1 Corinthians 7:19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.

 

Philippians 3:3 For we are the real circumcision Who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh

The true “[S]pirituality” that the New Covenant in Christ produces is the work of love as it keeps the commandments of God born out of regeneration in the Spirit.

Paul: An Outline of His Theology p. 285ff.

Grace and Knowledge

Dear Zion,

Greetings in the Lord!  Samantha and I were overjoyed when the Consistory informed us that you all as a church had decided to call us to come to Zion for me to serve you as your next pastor.  I never thought I could be so excited to move to Iowa!  We eagerly await the day when we can share with you in detail all the many ways we have seen the Lord work to make this come to pass.

I was so excited when Rev. Beaty selected II Peter 3:18 to encourage you all: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”  This has always been something of a life verse for me, and there is nothing I want more Continue reading