Dissecting Hope

Quote

john_owen2Hope is a glorious grace, whereunto blessed effects are ascribed in the Scripture, and an effectual operation unto the supportment and consolation of believers. By it are we purified, sanctified, saved. And, to sum up the whole of its excellency and efficacy, it is a principal way of the working of Christ as inhabiting in us: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Where Christ evidences his presence with us, he gives us an infallible hope of glory’ he gives us an assured pledge of it, and works our souls into an expectation of it.

Hope in general is but an uncertain expectation of a future good which we desire; but as it is a gospel of grace, all uncertainty is removed from it, which would hinder us of the advantage intended in it. It is an earnest expectation, proceeding from faith, trust, and confidence, accompanied with longing desires of enjoyment… Gospel hope is a fruit of faith, trust, and confidence; yea, the height of the actings of all grace issues in a well-grounded hope, nor can it rise any higher (Rom. 5:2 – 5).

The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded

Calvinist Influence on Worship in England

Calvin_HeaderTo what extent, if any, should Anglican and Reformed models of worship overlap? As to their differences – first, what are they; and secondly, are they material or formal? And if the differences are real – it seems fairly clear that on something as fundamental as the Regulative Principle of Worship, the two streams diverge – how should we handle influences and reactions?

As the 42nd PCA GA approaches, this question will grow slightly more important as different pockets within the denomination come into contact with each other. Some of these intersections will create snark:

And others will strive to mingle, as noted in this article from a largely appreciative perspective, “Thoughts Concerning the Influence of the Anglican Tradition on Contemporary Reformed Liturgical Practice.

My own opinion is both neophyte and (reactionary) cautious. Continue reading

Reformed In America Media Online

ReformedinAmericaA fantastic gathering in the Midwest had recently taken place, and now the videos are online. A big thank you to the host churches, as well as D.G. Hart and Alan Strange.

Now you’ve got your viewing/listening content set for the next few hours. Enjoy!

Session 1 | Alan Strange The Tumultuous Beginnings of American Presbyterianism

Session 2 | D.G. Hart The Challenge of Americanism

Continue reading

Uncomfortable Dark Grace

Paul Tripp participated in Mars Hill’s #bestsermonever series, and here’s a great reminder from Mark 6 of how God’s grace is uncomfortable.

This reminded me of a previous article arguing for “dark grace”:

God’s grace has a dark glint. God’s grace comes to Jonah in ways our prophet doesn’t always appreciate, and yet God’s grace changes him. Continue reading

Schreiner: Doctrine Is For Discipleship

Titus_Sermons_800I’ve been working through the Pastoral epistle Titus on Sunday mornings at Zion, and one of the key things we’ve been trying to emphasize is that what you believe about God (doctrine) will of necessity impact your life for God (discipleship).

This can be a hard teaching to swallow: is it really that simple? Can leveraging the Gospel truth in my life really make that big of a transformation? And yet when we remember that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), we are reminded that all of God’s saving work – from the new birth to growing in grace to final perseverance – is grounded in the Gospel. So many texts in Titus have been jumping off the page at me with this idea of Gospel grace bringing godliness to my life, and yet one that really sticks out to me in this sense is Titus 2:11 – 12: “For the grace of God has appeared… training us to renounce ungodliness… and to live godly lives…” As those verses show, God’s grace does more than this, but certainly not less! Continue reading

Repetition Needs An Editor

Aside

Schreiner_PaulBookDr. Thomas Schreiner’s magisterial Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ is one of my favorite texts on Pauline theology (see also Herman Ridderbos). Methodological concerns of a Pauline “center,” etc., are always challenging, but I think Schreiner – and the scholars that he has influenced – are often closer to going in the right direction than many others.

Here’s my question: did his editor see these?!

Some of Schreiner’s words seem nearly identical, mere sentences away from each other.

Here’s a few examples:

Some see this as “stuffy” orthodoxy and a bourgeois ethic.
4 sentences later…
Some may perceive this as a rigid orthodoxy that focuses on tradition and does not comport with the authentic Paul.
(p. 390)

The singular overseer is sometimes seen as distinct from the plural elders, but it is more likely that overseer is a generic term here.
1 sentence later…!
The singular for overseer is likely generic.
(p. 387)

No big deal, certainly, but it still left me bemused!

No big deal, certainly, but it still left me bemused!

Dr. Thomas Schreiner’s magisterial Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ is one of my favori

Happy Birthday, John Calvin

But with the immediate (helpful and true) caveat:

In his own words, don’t celebrate the birthday boy unless he helps lead you deeper into a Gospel-soaked piety.

Is Calvin, the man born this day in 1509 in Noyon, France, still relevant? Fortunately, Pope Francis is helping keep Calvin’s ideas current by issuing a new indulgence today:

Pope Francis will grant a plenary indulgence – a remission of all temporal punishment due to sin – to World Youth Day Catholic participants, the Vatican announced July 9…

They will also need to invoke “the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Brazil (with the title Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Aparecida) as well as other patrons and intercessors of the same meeting, that they may encourage the young to reinforce their faith and lead a holy life.”

The granting of indulgences by the Pope comes from Jesus’ response to Peter, the first Pope, when he proclaimed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” in Matthew 16.

Scott Clark points out that Calvin (like Luther) had quite a bit to say about indulgences:

Now very many persons see the base tricks, deceits, thefts, and greediness with which the indulgence traffickers have heretofore mocked and beguiled us, and yet they do not see the very fountain of the impiety itself. Continue reading

Was Chrysostom Anti-Semitic?

StJohnChrysostomSo says the Rev. James Martin, SJ over at HuffPo: “Saint John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople, writing in the fourth century, used Judas as an example of the wickedness of Jews in general.”

In an article gearing up for the Easter season, the Jesuit author reflects on how Judas has been portrayed through the years, noting that a pillar of the church no less than Chrysostom used Judas as an occasion to unfairly portray Jewish people.

Chrysostom (the name means “golden mouth,” a tribute to his skills as a preacher) was one of several saints whose writings were tinged with — and contributed to — the virulent anti-Semitism common at the time. Judas was evil not only because he had betrayed Jesus, but because he was Jewish.

Chrysostom sees the suicide of Judas as foreshadowing the suffering of the Jews, and comments on this approvingly. In his Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, he writes: “This desolation [his fate] was a prelude to that of the Jews, as will appear on looking closely into the facts.” That one of the most influential figures in the patristic era could write so cruelly shows not only the rapid assimilation of anti-Semitism into Christianity, but the hardening of the Christian imagination against Judas.

(source)

Martin goes on to deal with other examples – in the Renaissance and later periods – of Judas being used as cannon fodder.

Is this really an accurate way to handle the data, or is there another angle for reading Chrysostom? Continue reading

What Is the Definition of Missional?

jeff-vandersteltJeff Vanderstelt on the definition of “missional” (around the 1:55 mark of this video):

A man stood up at a conference and said, “Missional is the new ‘seeker’… the church finally getting its hands dirty.” Someone asked me to respond to him.

When we say missional, what we mean is:

God’s church is so saturated in the gospel and the mission of Jesus, that they see themselves as the sent ones of Jesus in all of life, to make disciples who make disciples, so that the earth is saturated with people who love Jesus and God is glorified in all things. That’s what I mean when I say missional… I want you to understand there are lots of definitions out there, but I when I say [missional] that’s what I mean.

Could you get behind that definition of “missional?” Why or why not?

Certainly, some terms need to be parsed out. As much as I appreciate Vanderstelt’s ministries, I’m not sure his definition of “God’s church” is the exact same as the Reformed confessions. Nevertheless, there is a lot of good here to chew on.

Vanderstelt also suggests that we ought not quibble over terminology: Why I’m tired of Hearing About “Missional”.

WSCal_2008MRFor more, go back to WSCal’s 2008 annual conference Missional & Reformed: Reaching the Lost & Teaching the Reached. The audio lectures up for free are:

  • Why the Mission Needs the Marks of the Church
  • The Mission and the Confession of the Church: Friend or Foes?
  • Why the Marks of the Church Need the Mission
  • Mission According to Paul
  • Mission in a Pluralistic Age
  • Mission and Missions: Evangelism in the 21st Century
  • Missional and Reformed (Q&A Session)

Michael Horton sums it up: “The mission of the Church is to evidence & execute the marks of the Church.”

Amen.