What I Read Online – 08/13/2011 (a.m.)

    • The biblical picture of sanctification, however, is much more comprehensive, and it is adequate to the task.  To be sure, gratitude for one’s justification plays a role, but even more prominent in Scripture are the warnings of the law, regular dependence upon the means of grace, and mutual accountability within the context of the body of Christ.  This biblical model of sanctification is not novel.  It may not be particularly exciting.  It is also unlikely to be the next big thing on the Christian seminar circuit or at the Christian bookseller’s convention.  But it is biblical, and it does work.
    • Bill Hybels said yesterday that the church is in the life transformation business. I’m glad to say that the Bible doesn’t support that view though it does seem to be a fairly common misconception today.
    • Success looks a lot like faithfulness, or as Eugene Peterson puts it, a long obedience in the same direction.
    • Second, we have also been convinced that much of the task of a children’s SS teacher is teaching them forms of sound words.  Young children do not generally think in abstractions; thus a lot of theological content simply passes them by; but the teacher can instill in them knowledge of a form of sound words which subsequent intellectual growth under the preaching of the word will flesh out.  The danger is that young minds can be taken captive early on by bad pictures; and these bad pictures then distort what they hear preached and taught as they grow up.
    • The Trinity is, in many ways, the prime example of this.  Indeed, I have heard more well-meaning but heretical kids talks on the Trinity than on anything else.  Most are simply modalist: ‘God is like water, ice and steam’ and ‘He is like a washing machine with three different settings’ are two of the more memorable disasters I can recall.  
      This kind of heresy is not just taught to children.  Some years ago I was teaching my Ancient Church class at the seminary and was working through a text by Origen.  Admittedly, this is perhaps not the clearest and most inspiring material but I did not expect what happened next.  An older student (who was already, I believe, ordained) raised his hand and declared that ‘This Trinity stuff is all nonsense.  Last Sunday I simply told my congregation that God the Father came down and died on the cross at Calvary.’.  Praxeas lives!  Where are you, Tertullian, for we have need of thee?  And I wonder if this person started down this path when some well-meaning SS teacher told him God was like an actor who takes different parts in different acts of the play, or a washing machine, or H2O?
    • Now, I am not fooling myself that my sons had all the nuances of sophisticated Trinitarianism.  It was simply that they had learned the catechism when they were small.  This then gave them a sound conceptual vocabulary which, over the subsequent years, they have been able to flesh out as they have sat under the sound preaching of the word each week.  No misleading natural analogy or well-intentioned but ultimately heretical model has ever gripped their imagination.
    • This is the immediate virtue of anti-relevance.  If teachers want to raise critical thinking about contemporary mass culture, they should expose students to past high culture.  The language of Romantic poetry exercises critical thinking about language better than does the language of billboard jingles.  It’s a paradox, but it’s true.  If teachers want students to know the present and all its coarse enticements, they should immerse them in the best expressions of the past.
    • Trinitarianism is a biblical doctrine and all the ingredients are given to us there: Just add thought and you have the classic doctrine.
    • Like most evangelicals, though, I would prefer to have a doctrine be stated clearly and concisely in one place. I like my doctrines verse-sized. I sometimes wish there were one verse that said, “God is one being in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The doctrine of the Trinity, though, is simply not verse-sized. Sometimes that feels like a disadvantage, but in fact it’s an advantage. The doctrine of the Trinity is a massive, comprehensive, full-Bible doctrine that serves to expand our minds as readers of Scripture. In Scripture, God is leading his people to understand who he is as Father, Son and Spirit.
    • Jonathan Edwards certainly believed so. Edwards believed that the entire Old Testament gives us a “typical (or typological) world.” Everything in the Old Testament is typological, from the ceremonies of the law to the history of Israel to the state and circumstances of God’s people throughout Scripture. Edwards believed that it is unreasonable to restrict types to the explicitly interpreted instances in Scripture. “For by Scripture it is plain that innumerable other things are types that are not interpreted in Scripture (all the ordinances of the Law are all shadows of good things to come)…”
    • Some friends of ours in the Middle East have recently launched a new website for the Muslim-Christian DIalogue, a resource which seeks to encourage an honest and respectful conversation between Christians and Muslims about some of the most important questions we could ever ask – namely, “Who is God?” and “How are we saved?”  Specifically, the Muslim-Christian Dialogue sets out to provide a clear understanding of how Christians and Muslims, respectively, answer these questions.  The dialogue features a Muslim scholar, Bassam Zawadi, debating with Thabiti Anyabwile, who presents the Christian argument.
    • Christians who have a particular burden to reach Muslims with the gospel will undoubtedly find this resource useful.  While many discussions between Muslims and Christians tend to either lack respect or avoid the crucial disagreements, the Muslim-Christian Dialogue sets out to honestly present the key differences between Islam and Christianity on the most important, foundational issues.  Moreover, Anyabwile himself is a former Muslim, which gives him a unique perspective on the specific challenges that so often hinder Muslims from understanding and believing the gospel.  This helps Anyabwile to present the gospel in a manner which is most clear and winsome to Muslims.  In fact, many Muslims have commented that the Muslim-Christian Dialogue contains the most clear, thorough explanation of Chrisitanity they have ever heard.
    • American Chinese food – it’s just like the movies! You get a fortune cookie!!! Words cannot describe how cool it is to feel like you’re in a movie, with American accents all around you as you move around the place.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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