Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Today's Sermons from PRBC on Hebrews 9
02/27/2011 - James White
This Week's MCTS Video...I Think There is Only One More to Come!
02/27/2011 - James WhiteHere is a video in which I publicly confess David Ould is a "great guy." I expect to be richly rewarded in October for this. :-)
God's Knowledge/Man's Knowledge
02/25/2011 - Jeff DownsSome of you are familiar with what has become known (inappropriately) as the Van Til/Clark controversy; dealing with what constitutes God's knowledge and man's knowledge. Recently the crew from the Reformed Forum spent some time with Dr. Scott Oliphint (who sat under Van Til and now teaches Apologetics at WTS) and addressed this controversy. Click here to listen.
If you are not familiar with Dr. Oliphint, he is the author of The Battle Belongs to the Lord and Reasons for Faith: Philosophy in the Service of Theology, both books dealing with apologetics. He is also one of the editors of Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader. Dr. Oliphint is certainly one of my favorites when it comes to contemporary apologetic thought.
Today on the Dividing Line: Listener's Questions, Six Calls
02/24/2011 - James WhiteStarted off answering questions that have been sent in, including a follow up on Reformed theology from our Muslim inquirer; then took three "regular" calls, and three Skype calls, two of which were from England (I like how the folks calling in from London are often speaking quietly because it is so late at night over there). Here's the program.
Today on a Radio Free Geneva: Questions About Calvinism
02/22/2011 - James WhiteToday I spent the entire program answering six questions sent in on the topic of Reformed theology. I hope the answers given are useful and edifying. A few comments at the end about the contrast between these serious questions and some of the looniness currently being seen out on the net. Here's the program.
Seven Long Months of Silence for Norman Geisler
02/21/2011 - James WhiteIt has been over seven months since I posted this video asking Norman Geisler honest, important questions about the defense he has made of Ergun Caner's fallacious claims. Seven long months of silence, seven long months of cover-up on the part of the Provost of Veritas Seminary (reminder: "veritas" means "truth" in Latin). The fully refuted, and often sadly shallow excuses offered up by Ergun Caner and posted by Norman Geisler (still found here as of this posting) remain a sad commentary on the depth to which some will go to cover up misdeeds on the part of those "in power." The current spate of angry and vile (let alone loony and dishonest) attack being hosted by Peter Lumpkins seems to be related in large part to vengeance over the exposure of Ergun Caner. It is a sad comment on the state of the church that speaking the truth can be so costly! In any case, I am still waiting for Norman Geisler to answer these questions. You and I both know he is fully aware of this video, and the questions. He does not answer, for he cannot answer. Honest believers who are concerned about the integrity of apologetic ministry will not allow such falsehoods to go unchallenged, nor will we tire of calling for repentance and restoration on the part of those involved. Remember, the prophetic ministry of men like Isaiah and Jeremiah lasted for years, during which time many even of their friends tired of their message.
Hadith 2425, Dr. Geisler. We are waiting.
Using the Qur'an in Witnessing to Muslims
02/20/2011 - James White
Of Doctorates and Eternity
02/17/2011 - Rich PierceEvery now and then I like to remind our critics of how the doctorate issue began. The first post in this series was by Dr. White who was the first to raise the issue, (late 1997). We have never hidden this from anyone but have yet to have a single critic actually interact with Dr. White's reasoning for following the path that he did. Take a look for yourself and get informed.
Partners in Ministry
02/17/2011 - James WhiteAfter the Sunday evening service at Trinity Road Chapel in London someone asked to take a picture of Pastor Doug McMasters and myself. Doug is a big boy...he makes me look pretty small. Doug and I have developed a lot of memories over the past fifteen or so years. We once did a 105 mile ride together out on the Sun Valley Parkway in Phoenix. Sadly, we tried it too early in the fall, and it got hot. Those last few miles were tough! And one year in El Tour de Tucson he zipped away from me early on in the race. But about ten miles from the finish I caught up with him, pulled into the drafting position and said as I was passing him, "Get on the bus!" He did, and we finished together. Never dreamed back then, of course, that someday we would be hustling through Gatwick airport in London just barely making a flight to Dublin, or sitting in the reading room at Trinity College examining Codex Montfortianus, or standing in Leicester Square witnessing to folks (or wandering around downtown London looking for anywhere to sit down and eat our fish and chips and mushy pes---yes, they spelled it without the 'a'). But, that's one advantage of growing old. You get to create collections of great memories with great friends and brothers in Christ.
Speaking of great friends and brothers in Christ, I got to spend at least one evening with Roger Brazier and his family while I was in London (they picked me up at Heathrow when I flew in from Glasgow). Roger was the man who first invited me to London back in 2005, so all you folks who have benefitted from the ministry over there over the past six years, Roger is to be thanked (or blamed, depending on which side of the aisle you are on). So we get together at Heathrow and the first thing I notice is that we have both gotten new glasses. Now, remember, within five minutes of meeting for the first time at Heathrow in 2005 we were chatting like long-lost brothers who had twenty years to catch up on. There are just some brothers that you "fit" with like you've known each other your entire lives, and that's Roger and I. So what do I immediately notice but that we have both purchased, without any communication or cooperation, almost identical glasses! OK, that's just too weird.
Finally, I am tremendously proud to announce that Jim Handyside almost gave me my "genuine Scots card" while I was in Glasgow. I can almost taste it. I did point out to him that there aren't that many Scottish Reformed Baptist pastors left in Scotland, so, can he really afford to get rid of me? I think that was a solid argument. But, to assist in my continued attempts to gain his acceptance of my true Scottish nature, I remind all of my readers of pastor Handyside's speaking schedule here in the US starting next week:
February 23- Highlands Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Sebring, FL 863-385-3787
March 5-6 First Baptist Church Markham Woods Lake Mary, FL 407-333-2085
March 8th Grace Chapel 352-476-8078 Sanford
March 11-17 Faith Baptist Tabernacle: Williston, FL 352-528-2216 Contact: 352-208-1007
March 17-22 St. Mary, GA 912-882-5704
March 22-28 Griffen, GA 770-631-3660
March 28-April 5 Bethel Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA 678-880-1123
Now, if folks came up to Jim and said, "Your fellow Scotsman, James White, told us about your being here," well, that sure would help a lot. But there is one thing that is sure...absolutely sure, to help me in my quest for final acceptance into the "truly Scottish Reformed Baptists" club (of which Jim is the President). And that is to go for the gold:
The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;
The sire turns o'er, with patriarchal grace,
The big ha'bible, ance his father's pride:
His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care;
And "Let us worship God!" he says with solemn air.
They chant their artless notes in simple guise,
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
Perhaps Dundee's wild-warbling measures rise;
Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;
Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame;
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:
Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickl'd ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high;
Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek's ungracious progeny;
Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire;
Or Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;
Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire;
Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
How He, who bore in Heaven the second name,
Had not on earth whereon to lay His head:
How His first followers and servants sped;
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:
How he, who lone in Patmos banished,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,
And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounc'd by Heaven's command.
Then, kneeling down to Heaven's Eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
Hope "springs exulting on triumphant wing,"
That thus they all shall meet in future days,
There, ever bask in uncreated rays,
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
Together hymning their Creator's praise,
In such society, yet still more dear;
While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere
Compar'd with this, how poor Religion's pride,
In all the pomp of method, and of art;
When men display to congregations wide
Devotion's ev'ry grace, except the heart!
The Power, incens'd, the pageant will desert,
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
But haply, in some cottage far apart,
May hear, well-pleas'd, the language of the soul;
And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.
(From "The Cotter's Saturday Night" by the "Bard of Scotland," Robert Burns
What Reformed Baptists Actually Believe, Abdullah Kunde, and Calls
02/17/2011 - James WhiteStarted off with a brief correction to a pastor from Brisbane who pretty much got what RB's believe on election completely backwards in a recent sermon (we listened to an anti-Calvinism sermon he preached a few months ago on a Radio Free Geneva), and then started listening to Abdullah Kunde's presentation in a recent debate in Australia. Then took calls on the New Covenant, Satan's past, and compatibilism. Here's the program.
Keith Mathison's Response to Bryan Cross
02/15/2011 - Tur8infanBryan Cross at Called to Communion posted a response to Keith Mathison's book, "The Shape of Sola Scriptura." Dr. Mathison's detailed response to Bryan Cross may be found at the following link (link). Dr. Mathison nails many of the central issues, without trying to be exhaustive. In particular, I think that the readers may enjoy the first portion of the response in which Dr. Mathison dismantles Rome's claims for herself.
Dr. Mathison sums up the matter well in these words:
Although the paper by Cross and Judisch begins with a critique of my sola/solo distinction and then moves on to the issue of apostolic succession and the nature of the church, it is necessary to deal with the issue of the church first because presuppositions about the church color all of the rest. If one assumes the correctness of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the church, then the differences I allege between sola scriptura and solo scriptura become invisible, but if one does not assume the correctness of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the church, the differences can be discerned. It is necessary, therefore, to begin with a discussion of the claims of the Roman Catholic Church.-TurretinFan
An Extra- Long DL Today
02/15/2011 - James WhiteTook quite a while to work through a report on my trip to London, Dublin, and Glasgow, and then started to take calls. Ended up with an interesting dialogue between Joseph and Sam Shamoun on the Qur'an, and then, well after the normal stop time, I addressed Peter Lumpkins and others, as promised. Great to be back and to do the DL! Here's the program.
Another Alexander the Coppersmith
02/14/2011 - James WhiteI just arrived in Philadelphia after an 8-hour flight from London. It was an uneventful flight during which I mixed a little reading of a work on the Qur'anic accusation of textual tampering with two viewings of...Despicable Me, which I found to be wonderfully heart warming and fun to watch (I rarely see movies in the theater, given I have so much flying time to fill on long trips using my iPad!). Yes, that's an odd mixture but hey, eight hours is a long time.
Anyway, I fired up my web access once I got here to Philadelphia as I have a bit of a layover (you know how much fun it is to go through customs, reclaim your bags, recheck your bags, go back through security, etc.), and amongst a few kind words about the ministry in the UK I found a discussion going on about someone that, as far as I know, I haven't even made reference to on this blog or on the DL for quite some time. He is a man who confesses he knows little about the subject of textual criticism, yet, he then displayed his own ignorance by posting the following under his own name:
James White embarrassed evangelicals with this poor dialog with Ehrman. Ehrman walks away looking like an accomplished scholar. On the other hand, White crawls away like a whipped mongrel.
As I will be doing the regularly scheduled DL tomorrow, I will add to the report on the ministry in the UK, along with the debate with Bassam Zawadi in London, a brief examination of the author of this insightful quotation (drawn from his own ignorance), along with some commentary on the kind of mindset that causes men like this to behave in such a fashion, while all the time thinking its "those other folks" who are causing all the divisions.
We will be doing the DL at its normal time, so I hope to see you all then!
Now THAT is an Upgrade!
02/14/2011 - James WhiteSo I arrive at Trinity Road Chapel Sunday morning. I'm going to be preaching from Mark 15. I figured I'd use my Accordance app on my iPad, but decided I might use my OliveTree Bible reader instead, just to have both Greek and English available. So I fire it up and am surprised to see a gorgeous green leather cover type graphic appear rather than the wooden one that I was accustomed to. Seems there was an upgrade the last time I updated my apps.
But what greeted my eyes once it loaded was pretty amazing. This isn't just a slight tweak, a few new features. No, this is an entirely new program. Now sometimes that is unsettling for those of us of Scottish extraction, but I had to immediately admit, the "look" is very impressive. As I started to tap around and explore, I grew more impressed. I did not have a lot of time before the service, but I chose to use it for the service, and it worked well.
That evening I was preaching through Romans 9:1-24, so I was doing some more exploring before the service. I decided to show the new program to my friend Doug McMasters, the pastor of Trinity Road Chapel. While we were looking at it, I clicked on a note I had inserted from my book at Romans 9:5. We were both utterly amazed to discover that not only did it open the note in a very readable fashion, but it had converted all biblical references to live links to the relevant texts, in Greek! Wow! What a massive leap forward in the notes area!
Seeing is believing, so here is the video from the OliveTree folks about the new BibleReader 5.0:
For speaking from the iPad (sermons, especially, teaching Bible Studies, etc.), OliveTree has catapulted itself right into the top spot with this upgrade. While Accordance still rules the roost as far as data available goes (Logos, with all its rich resources, has always been saddled with a horrifically unfriendly interface, and that remains the case with its iPad app), the Accordance app is graphically nowhere near this new BibleReader version. Note to Accordance: the "dial" type navigation has to go. BibleReader does it right. We have to be able to get to texts quickly while speaking, and the dial type navigation is slow and attention intensive. Now if OliveTree could rustle up some textual critical modules, it might start giving Accordance a race in the scholarly area as well!
Witnessing to False Teachers: a Question on the MCTS Podcast
02/14/2011 - James White
Sermons from London at Trinity Road Chapel
02/13/2011 - James WhiteI spoke on the historicity of the crucifixion in the morning service, and was asked, specifically, to revisit Romans 9 for the congregation Sunday evening. Here is the download page from Trinity Road Chapel. The Romans 9 presentation, while similar to last Sunday evenings, includes a refutation of "equal ultimacy" as well (which would not have been helpful in the preceding weeks' context).
Rebuttal Period from Last Night's Debate in London
02/13/2011 - James White
Thanks to All Who Watched/Listened/Attended
02/12/2011 - James WhiteJust a quick picture before I hit the hay (it is after midnight and I preach in the morning!). Many thanks to all who attended, watched, listened, prayed for, tonight's debate in London with Bassam Zawadi. It was a great evening, and as my goal for the evening was a clear presentation so that the hearers would have a solid ground upon which to decide the issue, I think we accomplished that. We already have a strong verbal agreement to have another debate in London in April of 2012 (yes, put it on your calendar!), and this time, at a Muslim location! Much more on the DL on Tuesday.
02/12/2011 - James WhiteI am told this is the link for the live feed. I do not know if it will go live right when we start, or how it will work, but this is the best I can do on short notice: http://www.christianity.com/11645665/
02/12/2011 - James WhiteJust a few quick notes to bring everyone up to speed on events here in London. I have arrived back in Wandsworth from a few wonderful days in Glasgow, ministering at the Reformed Baptist Church of Anniesland and staying with Pastor Jim Handyside and his wonderful wife, Chrissie. Remember that Jim and Chrissie are headed for the US in just a few weeks (see his schedule below).
The Campingites are spending their money attempting to get the Scots ready for May 21st. I took this picture in the Partick train station in Glasgow (you know, where you have to change after taking the Milngavie train if you want to get to Central Station!). I saw it along the line as well at various stops. I wonder if their contract ends on the 21st of May? I'd love to take a picture of one of these on the 22nd. And let's remember, I offered to do a week's worth of programs on Family Radio on "how to actually interpret the Bible in a meaningful fashion without turning it into your own private playground of prophetic speculation" when I debated Camping. I wonder if he will take me up on my offer? Remember, Christ could indeed return on May 21st. But He could also come on May 20th, or May 22nd, as well. I truly feel for the gullible, deceived folks who have been taken in by this false teacher and enemy of the truth. It is truly a shame, for I know you will hear stories of folks "losing their faith" after May 21st. And well they should---since their faith has been placed in a false prophet.
Apostasy is good business at HarperOne Publishers, to be sure. They love cranking out books against Christianity, and they love apostates who help them in their task, and here's their newest offering. Bart Ehrman is back, rehabilitating hundred and fifty year old liberalism, slapping the sticker of "New and Improved---All the Scholars Love It!---Did You Know I Studied Under Bruce Metzger?" on it and making a mint in the process. While I would not wish to bring Dr. Ehrman's burden into the afterlife to answer for before a holy Judge, I have now been through enough of these experiences to know that God even uses the disbelief of apostates for His good. Lord willing this frontal attack upon the Scriptures, like Misquoting Jesus and Jesus, Interrupted did, will result in sound, conservative responses, and may well cause some semi-conservatives to rethink their blind acceptance of the "flow" of much of NT scholarship that so easily dismisses such works as the Pastoral epistles as second century pseudonymous works. I hope someone will launch a counter-offensive, pointing out how circular most of the reasoning used to argue these points is. Example: "Well, the pastorals speak of a time when the church is established and organized, unlike what it would have been like during Paul's day. Therefore, they represent a later stage." Such argumentation, common as it is, is based upon flawed and fully challengeable assumptions. It requires us to believe the form and function of the church was the random result of evolutionary processes, not a divine revelation and part of the very purpose of the formation of the church at the outset. Further, it assumes what it cannot prove, i.e., that the primitive form of the church lacked elders and deacons, etc. It assumes its own conclusions, operates on the basis thereof, and then, in most liberal institutions, closes down dissent and moves on, having "established" its argument. The same can be said of the word-frequency/vocabulary studies so often referred to, which tend to ignore such simple considerations as "You know, you use different vocabulary when writing to someone you know well than you do when writing to a group of people" and the like. Simple considerations, rarely given voice in today's context. I can guarantee you, Forged will be one of the most cited books by enemies of the faith for years to come. Just be ready to reply, "Ehrman? Why not cite the 150 year old German liberals who came up with this silliness long before he slapped a new coat of paint on it and retired to the Bahamas?"
A Night at Leicester Square
Made the trek to Leicester Square last night to join some brothers and sisters in ministry amongst the thousands who walk the sidewalks in that gorgeous area. Wasn't quite as magical as last year for the simple reason that they are doing some kind of major construction project in the square for the 2012 Olympics, and hence the entire center portion is blocked off by a large wall. Cut down on discussions, I think. In any case, last year I had three major discussions out there. The second was with a short, thin Muslim man who prides himself on being some kind of a philosopher. I recall our conversation lasted 30-40 minutes, but I did not time it. In any case, he kept using terms like "rational" and "irrational" while insisting upon ignoring the very categorical definitions that are so vital in any honest review of Trinitarian thinking (specifically, categories of being versus person). I made my best effort to get through what I at first thought could be honest misunderstanding, but once I realized it was not misunderstanding but stubborn refusal to allow the Christian to even define his own position, I ended the conversation and moved on.
This year I started out talking to a young Muslim man and some of his friends. I discovered quickly that post-modern liberalism exists amongst the Muslims as well, as he was anything but an orthodox Muslim, Sunni or otherwise. He liked to talk a lot, and I was only able to get a few comments in, seeking to direct him to the cross and to the truth. At one point I did utilize my white goatee to point out that he is five years younger than my youngest child, and hence, sometime over the next ten years or so, he might get to the point where he actually wants to stand upon something more than his mere feelings.
Then a man around my age, standing nearby, joined the conversation. He was a more orthodox, and knowledgable, Muslim, and we were able to get into the text of Surah 5:47. I felt like I was just about to make clear the point I had been laboring on for a while, when he moved off into the subject of the sonship of Jesus. Just then a man to my right piped up, and as soon as I glanced over I realized it was the same pseudo-philosopher from the preceding year, holding a video camera at his chest (running, just as it had been last year---I wonder where those videos are on YouTube?). Within the first sixty seconds he lied twice, including claiming that the preceding year I "had not desired to talk about the Trinity." As I pointed out,when you spend at least half an hour talking to someone about a subject, only to end the conversation when they refuse to reason honestly with you, that is clear evidence that you did indeed have such a desire. Now, when someone starts off being dishonest, I have no interest in investing time speaking about something as important as the revealed nature of God with them. It is one thing to have a different set of beliefs. It is one thing to be confused about the Trinity. It is another to be a dishonest opponent. He did not like the fact that I would not indulge his gamesmanship, but I refused to give in to his taunting. One of the other brothers engaged him, and was still talking to him when I left. I shook my head, remembering a day, about a decade ago or so, when I would have done the same thing.
After leaving that conversation I talked with some of the brothers who had come out to witness to folks. They had excellent questions for me, not so much about apologetics, per se, but especially about how to remain balanced as one who engages in evangelism and apologetics. I was encouraged to hear their questions and to engage them on the importance of being in the local church and teaching on subjects outside of the apologetic realm. We had a great conversation there in the clear and cool winter evening in Leicester Square.
The debate with Bassam Zawadi is in just a matter of hours here in London. Tomorrow I preach in the morning and evening at Trinity Road Chapel, then I will try to get everything into my bags (may take an Engineering degree to do that this time) and get to Heathrow for my flight home on Monday. And yes, I fully intend, Lord granting health and safety, to do the regularly scheduled DL on Tuesday!
We Are Going to Try to Live Stream Today's Debate
02/12/2011 - James WhiteWe may have a way to live stream this evening's debate with Bassam Zawadi on whether Islam has misrepresented Christianity from here in London. However, we are still working on the details, and really will not know until much closer to the event time whether it will work out or not. So keep an eye out, as I will do my best to provide details as we get close. The debate is scheduled to start at half six (that's how it is said here! For all the Yanks, that's 6:30), so, that's 1:30pm Saturday Eastern time, 10:30am Pacific.
Teachable Moment for Those Who Live in Lumpkins' World
02/11/2011 - Alan KurschnerAny seasoned Calvinist will tell you that to try to interact biblically with an Arminian is a Herculean feat. And if you achieve that stage, it is an additional challenge to have them concentrate on a single coherent passage without them jumping all around the Bible. Peter Lumpkins is illustrative of that type of Arminian.
Recently, I argued that human responsibility does not imply libertarian free will; to which Lumpkins responded with a critique of my illustration.
But in Lumpkins' article what is missing is any interaction with my biblical argumentation---that which my illustration was based on. I could have responded to his critique pointing out how he has made me say more than I intended to in my illustration (sort of how many interpreters read in and try to find many correlations in almost every element in Jesus' parables).
So today he has posted another blog article at his website bringing up my article---and once again, without any interaction on the biblical level, including my biblical argumentation.
Lumpkins can say that my illustration about human responsibility vis-à-vis free will is flawed, but his criticism has no credibility until he can respond meaningfully to my biblical argumentation--which he refuses to do so.
Once again, I post my biblical argumentation for those in Lumpkins' world:
The Bible describes our human condition as slaves to our sinful will. Both Jesus and Paul use that terminology. Jesus did not come to affirm a free will; he came to set the will free. Both teach that the unregenerate person does not posses any moral free will:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44 )
“because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 8:7–8)They both use the exact same language "no one can" and "nor is it able" (ou dynatai). The Greek means "inability." In this context "moral inability." This is why Paul and Jesus use "slave" language. It is not that sometimes they can choose God, or occasionally they can please God. No, it is much more severe. Certainly, they have a will but only in the sense that they can choose according to their strongest desires, which in the unregenerate state is to only choose their fleshy desires.
P.S. There is an irony is Lumpkins' post. He starts off asserting:
"I don’t know if it’s unintended ignorance or intentional intellectual laziness on the part of many Reformed apologists, but options for theological accuracy coming from some of the more well-known websites are fast disappearing."
Who is the one lazy refusing to interact with what the Bible says about this subject? I'll let the reader decide.
Molinism in a Nutshell: God Makes Do the Best He Can
02/11/2011 - Tur8infanThe term "Molinism" is making it into the headlines of the blogosphere a lot these days. So perhaps you want to know, in thirty seconds, how Molinism differs from Calvinism. The short answer is that Molinism views man's will differently, and that consequently Molinism holds to "middle knowledge" to explain how God can have a comprehensive plan for all of human history.
Alfred J. Freddoso, Professor of Thomistic Studies at Notre Dame, explains Molina's position this way (source):
According to Molina, then, the basis for God's providence and for his foreknowledge of absolute future contingents is threefold:The Reformed position, as represented by the real Francis Turretin, differs from Molina's position in that the Reformed deny the middle of those three alleged bases of God's knowledge regarding the future. We acknowledge only Natural and Free knowledge, not "middle knowledge."
(i) his pre-volitional natural knowledge of metaphysically necessary truths,
(ii) his pre-volitional middle knowledge of futuribilia, and
(iii) his post-volitional knowledge of the total causal contribution he himself wills to make to the created world.
By (i) he knows which spatio-temporal arrangements of secondary causes are possible and which contingent effects might possibly emanate from any such arrangement. By (ii) he knows which contingent effects would in fact emanate from any such arrangement. By (iii) he knows which secondary causes he wills to create and precisely how he wills to cooperate with them via his intrinsically neutral cooperating grace and general concurrence. So given God's pre-volitional natural knowledge and middle knowledge, he is able to choose a comprehensive providential plan; and given further his post-volitional knowledge of what his own causal contribution to the created world will be, he has free knowledge of all absolute future contingents.
The reason for having "middle knowledge" in the Molinistic scheme of things is a view that what a creature would do in any given situation is neither a matter of God's choice nor a matter of absolute necessity. In other words, God cannot (according to the Molinist) decide what man would do in any given circumstance, he can simply decide whether or not to let the circumstance arise.
One might liken the Molinist conception of God to that of a person playing Scrabble(R). You get a tray of tiles from which to form words, and you arrange them the best you can. God makes the best of the tiles he's dealt, in terms of what creaturely free will would do in every possible circumstance.
In Calvinism, God also decides what the tiles will be. So, one might reasonably conclude, in Calvinism God's omnipotence is more expansive than in Molinism, because it extends also to the free choices of free creatures. It seems as though the Molinist's only answer is to assert that if God determines what the creature's choices will be, then those choices aren't really free.
As Freddoso explains (in the same paper):
Molina argues strenuously that this Bañezian doctrine is incompatible with human freedom and falls into the strict determinism advocated by the Lutherans and Calvinists. For even though the Bañezians, like Molina, insist that a free act of will cannot result by natural necessity from antecedently acting causes, they nonetheless assert that an act of will can be free even if God has predetermined to cooperate with it contemporaneously by a concurrence or grace that is intrinsically efficacious (or inefficacious). This Molina denies: 'That agent is called free who, with all the prerequisites for acting having been posited, is able to act and able not to act, or is able to do one thing in such a way that he is also able to do some contrary thing.' And numbered among these prerequisites is God's fixed intention to confer his general concurrence and grace. So if God has decided to confer only intrinsically efficacious (or intrinsically inefficacious) grace or concurrence in a given situation, the created agent's freedom is destroyed.As you can see, ultimately it comes down to a question of whether a will - in order to be free - must have an ability that it never, ever uses - the ability to do the contrary. This rationale seems to be what drives the engine of Molinism, and while many people accept this rationale, you'll never find it in Scripture.
The Greatest Mystery in the Universe
02/11/2011 - Alan KurschnerI think the greatest mystery in all of the universe, and by "mystery" I mean that which we as creatures cannot wrap our finite minds around so as to comprehend, is, not the trinity, and not that he made the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing), and not the virgin birth, but the greatest mystery is his divine love for us. The love of the Father predestining us, the love of the Son dying for us, and the love of the Spirit giving us a new birth.
This Trinitarian divine love that would reach down and save us unworthy sinners is the greatest confounding mystery in all of the Bible. And this mystery will only be more palpable on that day when we meet our Savior face to face.
It's Not the Thought that Counts these Days
02/10/2011 - Mike PorterIndeed.
It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy's clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning. But what with the weekly press and other such weapons we have largely altered that. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily 'true' or 'false', but as 'academic' or 'practical', 'outworn' or 'contemporary', 'conventional' or 'ruthless'. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.
--C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters (Screwtape to Wormwood)
For Our Friends in the Upstate New York Area
02/09/2011 - James WhiteIf you desire to hear God-honoring preaching and teaching, make sure you make plans to attend! Click here.
A Quick Note on the Comma
02/09/2011 - James WhiteDan Wallace posted on a marginal note on inserting the Comma in 1 John 5:7, here. He mentioned that at the time (this was posted in July, but since I'm in the UK, my mind skipped the year, and transposed the 7 and the 2, so I originally thought this was posted two days ago---for those who do not know, Europeans use a different order in writing dates, logically, going day, month, year, while Americans go month, day, year) he did not have access to a transcript of 61 to confirm whether it did, or did not, have the articles before the nouns in the string. Well, since I saw 61 just a few days ago, and tapped out a transcription on my Droid, let me add to this note from Dan that 61 does not have the article before Father, Word, and Spirit, and it does use the nomina sacra for heaven, Father, and Spirit. I hope to obtain a digital image of this page of 61 in the near future. In any case, the note is useful in providing a listing of all manuscripts containing the reading, and noting how massively late it is (only one can be dated to the 14th century). The continued defense of this reading, overthrowing all Byzantine priority or Majority text arguments, is the most sure and certain sign of TR and KJV Onlyism.
Sermons from Ireland
02/08/2011 - Rich PierceDr. White's sermons over this past weekend in Dublin are up on sermon audio. Please find the link here. The Trinity with Q&A, The Carmen Christi & The Potter's Freedom.
Greetings from Glasgow!
02/08/2011 - James WhiteI am once again back in "the land of my forefathers," as I like to point out, staying with Pastor Jim Handyside and ministering at the Reformed Baptist Church in Anniesland. This morning I had the opportunity to join in with their Tuesday morning coffee and tea outreach at the church, where passersby are invited in for free coffee, tea, and refreshments, and, of course, gospel conversation. I spoke with two men, one raised as a child as a Presbyterian but today an unbeliever, and another an inactive Muslim (as I found out only after we had spoken, actually). Tonight I will speak at the church, as well as tomorrow evening, before flying to London on Thursday.
Speaking of Pastor Handyside, he will be continuing his yearly trips to the United States beginning later in this month. You should plan to avail yourself of the opportunity to hear this precious brother in the Lord! Here is his schedule for 2011:
February 23- Highlands Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Sebring, FL 863-385-3787
March 5-6 First Baptist Church Markham Woods Lake Mary, FL 407-333-2085
March 8th Grace Chapel 352-476-8078 Sanford
March 11-17 Faith Baptist Tabernacle: Williston, FL 352-528-2216 Contact: 352-208-1007
March 17-22 St. Mary, GA 912-882-5704
March 22-28 Griffen, GA 770-631-3660
March 28-April 5 Bethel Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA 678-880-1123
If you are anywhere near these locations and want to hear soul-stirring gospel preaching, plan to attend! I recommend Jim Handyside's ministry to you strongly.
I have place an item by Emmanuel Tov on the Ministry Resource List that I note mainly for its value (Septuagint studies are very important) and for the fact that it is on sale for the next week or so. I think the area of the Septuagint is one of the most neglected areas of apologetics study, and it is an area I wish to delve much more into in the future.
Please pray for the debate on Saturday the 12th as well. Pray the Lord will bless and will bring many out to hear the exchange.
A Great Reminder: We are not alone in this
02/07/2011 - Mike PorterTracking down correspondence between the Reformers is quite a task, I have found. Nonetheless, it is useful to read the letters between the Reformers to get a sense of how they esteemed each other. Sometimes they were brutally honest with how they felt about each other. Sometimes they were more brutal than honest. But most times, they esteemed each other with the highest of respect.
I read a particular letter some time ago that reminded me of the men of God who work so diligently to present the Word of God with clarity and authority world wide. It also reminded me of the small band of brothers of the pen who write on this blog. This quote is from Calvin to Bullinger regarding, among other things, the receipt of Bullinger's fifth Decade:
I was met by a messenger bearing your letter, when lately on my way to Neuchatel. After my return home, I received another from a certain Italian, together with the fifth Decade. You say by way of apology for sending your books, that you do not do so in order that I may learn from you; for my part, as I am desirous to make my labors beneficial to all good men, so on the other hand, I am glad to profit by the writings of others. And indeed intercourse like this is brotherly, when we know that the gifts of the Spirit are so distributed among us, that no one individual is sufficient for himself. Your gift was, therefore, acceptable to me.
Bullinger presented his gift to Calvin with the greatest of humility, acknowledging that he did not think Calvin to be in need of such instruction. Calvin, for his part, gratefully accepted this gift from Bullinger expressing his gratitude that the Spirit had distributed among the Reformers great gifts of intellect and insight. In this, we know that great and mighty men were used of God all throughout Europe to establish and maintain Reform. But, what they were doing amounted to preaching God's Word with power and authority.
And truly, it is good be reminded of the privilege of being part of God's church, knowing that the Spirit uses us in different ways to spread the Gospel and glorify God.
The Power of Christ's Resurrection
02/07/2011 - Mike PorterThe Power of Christ's Resurrection
This then is what the apostle means by the "Power of Christ's resurrection," and this is what we are as much concerned experimentally to know, as that He rose at all.
Without this, though we may be moralists, though we may be civilized, good-natured people, yet we are no Christians. For he is not a true Christian, who is only one outwardly; nor have we therefore a right, because we daily profess to believe that Christ rose again the third day from the dead. But he is a true Christian who is one inwardly; and then only can we be stiled true believers, when we not only profess to believe, but have felt the power of our blessed Lord's rising from the dead, by being quickened and raised by his Spirit, when dead in trespasses and sins, to a thorough newness both of heart and life.
The devils themselves cannot but believe the doctrine of the resurrection, and tremble; but yet they continue devils, because the benefits of this resurrection have not been applied to them, nor have they received a renovating power from it, to change and put off their diabolical nature. And so, unless we not only profess to know, but also feel that Christ is risen indeed, by being born again from above, we shall be as far from the kingdom of God as they: our faith will be as ineffectual as the faith of devils.
- George Whitefield
More from MCTS...Apologetics and the Local Church
02/06/2011 - James White
Church Growth is Dead?
02/06/2011 - Mike PorterPastor Marty Fields of Westminster Presbyterian Church believes that it is:
The first crack in the church growth edifice came a couple of years ago when church growth advocate George Barna expressed frustration that - since the full-blown implementation of church growth principles 20 years ago - there has been no net growth in the Christian church to speak of; in fact it has declined in America. He found that mega-churches have both a big front door and an equally large back door.
All mega-churches seemed to have accomplished is to kill off smaller churches that resisted the temptation to compromise Biblical Christianity.
The final nail came when Willow Creek Community Church - the “Mecca” of the church growth ideology - recently released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, on staff at Willow Creek, conducted the study. The conclusion? Senior Pastor Bill Hybels said, to his credit, “We made a mistake.” They didn’t make disciples - they made dunces.
Read the whole thing here.
But, the real question is "What will those churches driven by the spirit of pragmatism learn from this?"
Harold Camping: The Day After?
02/06/2011 - James Swan
I grew up listening to Family Radio, but not by choice. My parents loved the music. Any time we were in the car, chances are that would be the station blaring through the back seat speakers. I suffered through till the invention of the Walkman, when teenage rebellion finally had a way to escape the soft sounds of Family Radio. My parents though were not Campingites. When Mr. Camping started speaking, my father would mutter something like "Oh, not this guy" and change the station.
Through the years I did meet Campingites. We had them in my church. They would be in a Bible study group and would occasionally begin a sentence with something like "Well, Brother Camping says....". When I became a member of my church, another couple becoming members at the same time soon left when Mr. Camping announced his followers needed to flee the churches. My area is a strong Family Radio area. My cable television provider actually carries Family Radio's TV channel as part of basic cable. That is, if you get the bare minimum cable channels, you will get the Family Radio channel.
Those of you keeping an eye on Mr. Camping's latest apocalyptic predictions probably have wondered what will happen on May 22, 2011? No, I didn't get Camping's date wrong. The question many are asking is what will Mr. Camping, Family Radio, and his followers say the day after his dated judgment day and end of the world? For Camping and his followers, asking such a question is seen as blatant unbelief. This is entirely fallacious. I certainly look forward to the Lord's return, complete redemption of creation, being completely freed from this body of death, and most of all seeing my savior.
Camping has repeatedly proven himself untrustworthy. Those of us asking what will happen on May 22, 2011 are often the same people who wondered what was going to happen on September 18, 1994. Mr. Camping had published 1994? in which he said the end of the world might be between September 15-17 (p. 531). The book now is but a curiosity, used copies selling for as little as one dollar.
Curious as to what Mr. Camping would say on September 18, 1994, I actually recorded about thirty minutes of Camping's Open Forum from that day. You can listen to my old recording here. One thing you'll notice, it's business as usual. The first caller attacks Hank Hanegraaff, who was a strong voice against Mr. Camping during this time period. The second caller was some sort of dispensationalist challenging Camping, which he eventually refutes by pointing out how their predictions about the antichrist have not panned out over and over again, which is ironic considering Mr. Camping's own personal interpretive prophetic record.
From the Family Radio website comes the following:
Caller: I find it very scary that, in your book 1994?, you wrote that you, with all your heart believed, sincerely believed that Christ would return, and you were sincerely wrong. And now you're telling people to get out of the churches and you are sincerely wrong again. II Thessalonians 2 says that first there will be a great falling away, and I think you're leading that falling away.
Mr. C: Well, I can understand why you say those things. Until we become better acquainted with the whole Bible, we obviously are going to be frightened at the idea of having to obey the command to leave the churches. And I can tell you, there is no pleasure on my part to teach this. It's no pleasure at all. But I have to be faithful to what the Bible is teaching. Yes, I do find that ironic that after all these years, I'm listening to Family Radio.
Now, when I talked about 1994, I said, yes, there's a very high probability that it could be the end. At that time, I said a lot of things that I was wrong about. For example, I was still teaching, like all the churches teach, that water baptism and the Lord's table were part of the moral law. And yet, today, I know that's not true. They are part of the ceremonial law. At that time, I was not teaching that there would be the latter rain, that is, that God still had another plan to continue the evangelization of the world. I did not know that at that time. At that time, I taught a number of things that subsequently, as God opened my spiritual eyes, as well as the eyes of a great many others, I now can teach more carefully. And tomorrow, God will open my spiritual eyes to something else. That's the nature of the student of the Bible. We keep searching the Bible and learning.
Now, in the case of predicting a date, we always have to say we can't say this absolutely. The Bible absolutely says, and I've always said this and never changed it, no man can know the day or the hour. The Bible is very clear about that. The Bible does not say no one can know the year or the month. That's another matter. But no one can know the day or the hour. But the point is that as we look at the matter of the end of the church age, there is an enormous amount of information that we begin to learn about. And so, all I ask people to do is read the Bible, don't trust me, read it in the Bible.
For those of you asking what Mr. Camping will say on May 22, weigh the above carefully. My standard response to those who ask me is that I'm hopeful Mr. Camping will repent. My gut tells me some sort of similar Camping-esque statements to the above will be forthcoming.
Besides multiple hours of Mr. Camping, Family Radio also runs various other things. I heard them giving tips on parenting and managing social security today. My basic question is... why? If it's the end of the world, well, worrying about raising a family correctly or managing social security seems like a waste of time. That's right, I'm now listening regularly to Family Radio, but when the music comes on, I change the station.
A rebuke worth noting
02/05/2011 - Mike Porter"When you have to come to a Methodist for a biblical sermon, that’s pitiful."
Those are the sobering words of William H. Willimon, a self-designated liberal preacher who offers a well-deserved rebuke of "conservative" preachers who, despite all their arguments for "connecting", meeting "felt needs", "contextualizing", and (insert fadish buzzword here), have ended up sounding indistinguishable from liberal preachers. When a liberal preacher tells you that you sound like a liberal preacher, that is not to be taken as a compliment.
The primary responsibility of the Church is to proclaim God's Word. Of the ministry of preaching God's word, Martyn Lloyd-Jones said it well, "The Church is a special and specialist institution and this is a work that she alone can perform." In other words, there will always be other agencies that will provide social aid, but there is no other institution that can deliver the Gospel. There exists no other agency whose chief purpose is to tell men to "fear the Lord and keep His commandments." Whatever other obligations exist for the Church for its fellow man, if it refuses to proclaim of God's Word it is a useless institution which can be replaced by a hundred or even thousand others secular institutions.
What is commonly thought of these days as being new and innovative is neither new nor innovative. It may have new flash and greater special effects, but it is not new. The argument we hear is usually along the lines that, Man is different than he was a generation ago. He is more sophisticated. He is more technologically savvy. Therefore, the Church must reach out to that person. We must meet the felt needs, the concerns, the struggles because he is struggling as he has never struggled before.
Such an argument could have been given 40 years ago, even a hundred years ago, and it would have been no different in principal. In fact, this argument has been used for the last hundred years. Social Gospel and other experiments have been around for a long time.
The problem is that the argument is always based on the same fundamental error. Man has not changed. He is still sinful, still seeks to overthrow its Creator, and still seeks to be a law unto himself. God has not changed. He still rules as Sovereign Lord, His holiness still demands justice for sins wrought against Him, and He still meets the deepest needs of those whom He has created.
The Gospel confronts the sin and cuts through all excuses and arguments and subjects all men to the authority of God. The Gospel was not intended to alleviate a poor self-image. It was intended to bring those who are made in the image of God to repentance, that they would become worshipers of God. And the only means of this life-giving message comes from God's people who proclaim the Scriptures and preach salvation to men.
It is a difficult ministry. It is a despised ministry. It is not a ministry for anyone else but Christ's Bride. She must be faithful to deliver the message of her Husband.
We need biblical preachers now, more than ever, to remind us that “He who sits in the heavens laughs” (Psalm 2:4) over our kings and kingdoms. God, not nations, rules the world.
Indeed we do. And I will echo Willimon's sentiment that when a self-designated liberal preacher needs to soundly rebuke biblical preachers for not being biblical preachers, there is little more needed evidence that many preachers are in need of repentance and must once again desire to faithfully execute their primary responsibility.
A Quick Report from Wind-blown Dublin, Ireland
02/04/2011 - James WhiteI haven't seen wind like this in a long time, I really haven't. This morning during breakfast I heard predicted gusts of 110km/hr, and I believe it! But, despite the somewhat inclement weather (at least it is not overly cold), I had a wonderful day today. But first...
The morning after I arrived in London I made the trek down to the Premier Radio studios in London to once again join Justin Brierley for the Unbelievable Radio Program. We had a discussion of the King James Bible with Kyle Paisley, a minister and son of Ian Paisley. You can listen to the dialogue when it airs on February 12th (and is posted on Justin's podcast page). I always enjoy visiting with Justin, and hope the programs we do are helpful to a large audience.
That evening I was once again on the "Live at Nine" program on Revelation TV, this time to debate Pastor Jack Moorman on the King James Only position. We had a live studio audience. (Please see my personal note at the end of this blog entry about the comment made by the moderator at the beginning of the program). Someone recorded it off the web, and has already posted it on YouTube, though the video is at a very low frame rate and is a little difficult to watch. In any case, here's the program:
Yesterday one of my hosts, Joe Reilly (you have heard him call in a number of times on the Dividing Line) took pastor Doug McMasters and I to the Trinity College here in Dublin. We were joined there by Chris Caughey, a brother I met over twenty years ago, who is now doing doctoral studies in history at Trinity College. We went to the library where we visited "the Long Room" which is, well, as you can see, just amazing. It really does look like this. Rows and rows, stacks and stacks, of books, most of which are quite old. The smell was amazing. I suppose if you are not a lover of old books, that is hardly of interest to you, but if you do, you know how awesome such a place can be. Makes me ponder what the library at Alexandria looked like (and smelled like!). But we could not stay long in the Long Room, as we had an appointment in the reading room. Chris Caughey had helped me prepare a manuscript request, and we needed to make our appointment with Codex Montfortianus!
Now while you can only see my arm (Pastor McMasters is a big man!), this is Doug, Joe, and myself, examining Codex Montfortianus, the text theorized by some to be the one used to force Erasmus to insert the Comma Johanneum into the third edition of his Greek text (assuring it a place in what is today called the Textus Receptus, and hence in the King James Bible). We took the time to examine the relevant text, as well as to check its reading at other places such as Luke 2:22 and Revelation 16:5. Remember that these hand-written manuscripts take a while to examine. Not only were they produced prior to the versification of the Bible, but the scribe of this particular text seemed to be in quite a hurry, and was not easy to read. I hope to make some more comments on the text in the future, hopefully putting up a YouTube video on the entire issue of 1 John 5:7. We also took the opportunity while there to examine the Book of Kells on display there at the library. It was a wonderful opportunity, for which I am very thankful.
This morning I fulfilled a hope that had been born last year when Doug McMasters and I first began considering coming up here to Dublin to visit the Chester Beatty Library, home of P45, P46, P47, and a small fragment of P66. We were joined once again by Joe and Chris. Unfortunately, the Museum's manuscript reading room was closed (we are working on obtaining some high quality digital images of particular texts), but the display area is very impressive, and we spent a long period straining our eyes to examine the manuscripts that are available. So as to preserve them, the light is very low. This makes attempting to read 1800 year old uncial hand writing next to impossible, but we tried very, very hard. Since I have the Accordance Bible App on my iPod Touch, I have the papyri transcriptions available to me all the time. So, once we could identify some key terms or phrases, I could search and find them, and then we would have a transcript to follow in reading the texts. We read from P47 in Revelation chapter 9, for example.
Then we went to P46 and identified each of the pages on display. The last one we examined was from Philippians. I excitedly consulted my Accordance listing to see if possibly I might see any of the Carmen Christi (Philippians 2:5-11) in one of the earliest papyri sources for the book. Unfortunately, the text on display ended at Philippians 1:29! Which meant that the Carmen Christi began on the back of the page on display! But I did not mind not seeing it, as I knew I was looking at the very page that contains that glorious and sacred text. The page we saw is to the right.
It was probably a bit humorous for some of the visitors to see us kneeling on the ground before these pages. No, we were not worshipping them. The light reflected off of them from above, so the best vantage point for viewing the writing was at an angle from below. So the conversation would be like this:
James: "OK, the nomina sacra there on line three....is that hoti following? Can anyone make that out?"
Doug: "Could that be eis to?"
Chris: "That's definitely wn before it...is there an wn in that text?"
James: "Ah, found it!"
And so on. What a great time we had. Well, until we ran into the small fragment of P66 on display. I don't think my eyes will ever recover from the straining I did to decipher that tiny little fragment. I vow I shall not be defeated by this little thing, but I have not finished my work on it. Hopefully I will have time to blog something about that once I get home from this trip. We also saw the earliest papyri fragment of the Gospel of Mark as well. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
And Jesus said to him, "Starve my lambs"
02/03/2011 - Mike PorterIn contrast to John Ryland's profound thoughts on the office of Christian preacher, I would like to share a clip from a modern pastor who mocks nameless congregants for wanting to go deeper into God's word:
HT: The Museum of Idolatry
In this clip, after mocking the congregant by using a derogatory word against them, Perry Noble, demonstrating pastoral patience and concern, tells this audience of 2000 pastors, "You know what I tell them? I tell them, 'Your only as deep as the last person you served.'" He then implies threatening to look at their tithing and service record to "see how deep you are".
Later he accuses the motive of the congregant(s) stating that the reason why they want him to go deep is so that he would stand up on Sundays and "confuse the heck out of you so you don't have to apply what I teach on Sundays -- I could do that."
Contrast that with John Ryland's comment about pastoral ministry for a moment, "The great design and intention of the office of a Christian preacher are to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men..."
What a contrast! How many of the flock are starving for the greatness of God, wanting to feast upon His presence in worship only to find that their shepherd is too lazy to lead them to the green pastures?
What should Christian worship look like? Is it not compared to a feast wherein a soul is satisfied? Consider Psalm 63:
Psalm 63:1 A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. 4 So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
"My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness...". Is this what we hear Mr. Noble telling other shepherds? The picture David gives us is a contrast of starvation and thirst in a barren land.
Living in the Arizona, I can relate to the picture of thirst very well. I have been on hikes when there was no water around and it was very hot. Knowing that I would need to walk another quarter mile before any water is available can be anguishing and frustrating as I long for that moment of refreshment. And when it comes, there is grace or dignity. There is only ravenous drinking until I am satisfied.
David pictures himself in a barren land and when he finally comes to the presence of God he gorges himself. Nothing can satisfy him like being in the presence of God.
This is the great responsibility of a Christian pastor. He provides the Word of God so that the people may gorge themselves in great and holy worship of God. He is not to berate his people for being ravenous in their appetite. The infinite God alone can satisfy the deepest spiritual longings.
1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.
Be thankful for the diligent preparation of your pastor if he works hard at preaching and teaching. Be sure to encourage him that he is doing the Lord's work and faithfully executing his charge. It would be easier for him to pass on this responsibility and simply provide heart-rendering stories or self-help style homilies, but if he labors to bring forth the "whole counsel of God" thank him personally, and thank the Lord for him. And then pray the Lord will raise a thousand more like him.
Purpose Driven Preaching
02/02/2011 - Mike PorterWhat a different world of ministry we live in. Would that the Lord raise up a thousand ministers who held these insights:
The office of the Christian ministry, rightly understood, is the most honourable, and important, that any man in the whole world can ever sustain; and it will be one of the wonders and employments of eternity to consider the reasons why the wisdom and goodness of God assigned this office to the imperfect and guilty man!
It is an office and character that are deeply interested in the highest concerns of God’s perfections and glory. It is an employment that obliges a man to the closest attention, to find out the true mind of God in the Holy Scriptures. It is a work in which we are called, to instruct the minds of men in the noblest knowledge, and to teach them to adore and love God –- The great design and intention of the office of a Christian preacher are to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men; to display in the liveliest of colours, and to proclaim in the clearest language, the wonderful perfections, offices, and grace of the Son of God; and to attract the souls of men into a state of everlasting friendship with him.
--John Ryland, Preface to the republished Student and Preacher by Cotton Mather, pp. iii-iv
Update to Dr. White's Schedule in Ireland
02/02/2011 - Micah BurkePlease note the change:
Feb. 6th...27 Florence Rd, Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland...Dr White will be speaking at the Sunday evening service in Bray Gospel Hall. The sermon will be on "The Potter's Freedom" Romans 9:9-23. Contact the church for more information (website n/a).
The Gospel Challenges Culture
02/01/2011 - Mike PorterPhil Johnson stole my article!
OK, not exactly. I was, however, working on an article with some very similar observations as Phil in observing the danger of "contextualization" without restraint, which seems to be the fare of the day. He noted some similarities with the problems the Corinthians faced with some relevant concerns for the modern church.
I will gladly tip my hat to his keen insight, as usual.
But, allow me to offer a few thoughts on the matter, since Phil brought it up.
First, Paul's fundamental concern in preaching to the Corinthan church was a clear presentation of the Gospel that was free of all attempts to impress and "connect" with the Corinthian culture. We learn from Paul's letter to the Corinthians that there are limits to allowing cultural influences within the church context. Paul's reliance upon God to grow the church reflects a deep-seated faith in the power of the Gospel to change lives.
1 Cor 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
What did Christ send Paul to do? Preach the Gospel. Paul's rejection of "cleverness of speech" is directly connected to his being sent by Christ. It is Paul's obedience to Christ that he not use such tactics, but instead rely upon God for the establishment of His church. The consequences of Paul's disobedience is that the cross of Christ could be made void. It is often missed by the many churches today that there is a way to make the cross void (I will make a point to stop here and recommend Dr. White's book Puplit Crimes which discusses this point at length.) One would think that a church would approach the gospel ministry with great trepidation rather than with an arrogance that falls headlong into the next great "Christian" fad masquerading as preaching and pastoring!
The emphasis on the power of God to save by Paul echoes his thought in Romans 1:16 where the Gospel is the 'power of God unto salvation'. One cannot miss the complete devotion of Paul to preach the Gospel in its entirety and unashamedly. He did so without succumbing to the appearance of being relevant and culturally aware and he guarded the Gospel content jealously (Gal 1:6-10). He was well aware of the Corinthian culture. He was schooled in rhetoric. Yet, to underscore that the establishment of this church was entirely the power of God, he rejected the sweet speech, thus opening him up for ridicule and mockery for his 'contemptible speech' (2 Cor 10:10).
Second, Paul's preaching embraced a call for godliness in a godless culture. Here is where Phil's article was spot on in its analysis of the sick sexual culture of the Corinthian city. When true Christian godliness is proclaimed, it is not kind to the culture around it and it uncompromisingly demands change. Those who wish to be part of the faith are not enticed with the prospect that they will be able to remain as they are. They are expected to seek after holiness. The Christian Gospel confronts culture with head on. It does not seek to morph into its surroundings. The consistent testimony of Paul's encounter with violent men should be sufficient to clarify this. When he was contrasting the "servants" of Satan with himself, Paul provided his credentials as to why they were not worthy of being followed and how he had proven himself:
2 Cor 11:23 Are they servants of Christ?-- I speak as if insane-- I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
I doubt that Paul was beaten by rods for his daring and culturally relevant sermon series on leadership strategies. I see no evidence that he received 39 lashes for his bold move to put a latte bar in the foyer and have the hip Ephesian rock band open for him before he gave his Scriptural Principles for Financial Success. Paul was not stoned because he tried to appear like the culture around him. Paul had all these things done to him because he preached against the ungodliness of the culture. He proclaimed their need to bow before Christ. He rejected any validity to their false gods and did so without shame and without concern for the political, religious, and economical problems such a message would create. Luke tells us a very telling statement about the impact of the church:
Acts 19:23 About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way.
So, the question must be asked: What happened to the church to make her think that the best way to make an impact on the world for Christ was to look less like Christ and more like the world?
Link for the Live Debate on Wednesday
02/01/2011 - James WhiteHere is the link to watch the debate at 9pm London time (you can figure the time out from there, but if you can't, click here) on Revelation TV. Enjoy!
Dr. White on Janet Parshall's Show: The Forgotten Trinity
02/01/2011 - James SwanWhen Dr. White is away I like to go through some of my old cassette tapes and dig out a few tidbits many of you probably have never heard before. Here's a 1999 interview Dr. White did on Janet Parshall's show on the topic, The Forgotten Trinity.
The Forgotten Trinity Interview 6/16/99
Click here to order Dr. White's book, The Forgotten Trinity.