What I Read Online – 10/14/2011 (a.m.)

    • It’s at times like this that I understand why the Puritans called the home a ‘little church’. As we sit here, the four kids and I, listening to my husband Steve read the Bible, it all falls into place. It’s completely casual, and I reckon just about anyone could do it, because all you have to do is to open a Bible, read a passage, and talk about it.
    • It’s got to be good for us here in Sydney to listen and interact with people who are  in the same theological ballpark, and yet different enough to challenge us and to highlight our blindspots.
    • It was also excellent that Bob said the things he did coming from his particular background, because it almost certainly helped people hear the ideas more clearly.
    • As Bob himself would readily admit, 20 years ago he would have thought and expressed himself rather differently—on all sorts of issues.
    • There are those amongst us who are on the opposite trajectory—that is, who are a bit disgruntled and dissatisfied with Reformed evangelicalism and are looking for ‘something more’. This is the sub-group in our churches (who are always with us) that tend to be susceptible to the charismatic offer of a deeper experience, a higher level of the Spirit’s power, a more victorious life, and so on. And I worry that Bob’s visit may unwittingly encourage and embolden them to go further on this trajectory (that is, away from a word-centred, cross-centred, Calvinist theology and ministry). The irony is that if they do so, they will in all likelihood pass Bob and the Sovereign Grace movement going in the opposite direction!
    • For a whole range of reasons, I can’t see how labelling our singing as ‘worship’ would be helpful.
    • I think the task before us is to continue to articulate (and put into practice) a robustly evangelical approach to singing: one in which the singing is gospel-centred, and is addressed to one another and to God (depending a bit on what we’re singing); one in which the words and theology are vital, but in which the moving of the affections is also important. And we’re trying to do this in a climate where the charismatic model (exemplified and promoted so widely by Hillsong and others) exerts a constant influence.
    • “He Has Done All Things Well”
    • A quick note on secondary sources: Christian materials do not always treat Mormonism fairly or go the extra mile to present Mormon ideas as a Mormon would recognize it. One book that does is Andrew Jackson’s Mormonism Explained: What Latter-day Saints Teach and Practice. I also recommend A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-Day Saints by BYU professor Robert Millet. Richard Mouw concedes too much in his Foreword and Afterword, but it’s still helpful to get Mormon Christology from a Mormon himself.
    • In Mormon thinking, the rise of Mormonism was not merely a reformation or renewal of the church. It was a complete restoration. Following the death of Christ’s apostles, the church fell into complete apostasy.  The church lost divine authority and true doctrine. There is no unbroken continuity from the early church to the present. Christianity, for almost all of its history, was false and without the truth—until Joseph Smith and his revelation.
    • Mormons believe the Bible (the KJV version), but do not consider it inerrant. Neither do they consider the Bible complete. What makes Mormonism unique is their belief in continuing revelation sustained through prophets, seers, and revelators. So while Mormons affirm the Bible, they also affirm the inspiration of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Through an elaborate hierarchy of President, First Presidency, Twelve Apostles, First Quorum of the Seventy, and Second Quorum of the Seventy, Mormons can receive authoritative interpretations and new authoritative revelations.
    • According to Mormon theology, men and women are the spirit sons and daughters of God.
    • Mormons do not believe in human depravity.
    • In Mormon thought, God has a physical body.
    • Whether God the Father is self-existent is unclear. There was a long procession of gods and fathers leading up to our Heavenly Father. 
    • Mormons do not believe in the Trinity.
    • But this familiar language does not mean the same thing to Mormons as it does to Christians. Jesus was born of the Father just like all spirit children. God is his Father in the same way he is Father to all. Whatever immortality or Godhood Jesus possesses, they are inherited attributes and powers. He does not share the same eternal nature as the Father. Jesus may be divine, but his is a derivative divinity. As one Mormon theologian puts it, Jesus “is God the Second, the Redeemer.”
    • While the atonement itself is not overly defined, the way in which the atonement is made efficacious is much more carefully delineated. Salvation is available because of the atoning blood of Christ, but this salvation is only received upon four conditions: faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end by keeping the commandments of God (which include various Mormon rituals).
    • Atonement may have been completed on Golgotha, but is was made efficacious in Gethsemane.
    • The goal of Mormon salvation is not about escaping wrath as much as it is about maximizing our growth and insuring our happiness. Salvation is finding our way back to God the Father and recalling our forgotten first estate as his premortal spirit children.
    • Temples are also important in Mormon doctrine and practice. Couples must be married in a Mormon temple to have eternal marriage, and every Mormon must be baptized in one of their 135 (and counting) authorized Temples. Because of the importance of baptism in the Temple, baptisms for the dead are extremely common. Mormons keep detailed genealogical records so that their ancestors can be properly baptized. By one estimate more than 100 million deceased persons have been baptized by proxy baptism in Mormon temples. Those who received this baptism are free in the afterlife to reject or accept what has been done on their behalf.
    • Reformed folks share the same concern. Christ is both Savior and Lord: you can’t embrace one without the other. And we don’t make him Savior and Lord; he is Savior and Lord whether we embrace him or not. The goal of evangelism in our churches is to make disciples, not just converts. That’s why we don’t focus on a striking conversion experience, but on Christ, and emphasize the Christian life as a constant living out of our baptism, in the communion of saints. Lifelong discipleship is not an individualistic affair, but a team sport.
    • When the Bible talks about “getting saved” (which it never does in precisely those terms), the focus is on the Triune God saving sinners through the twists and turns of redemptive history, from one end of the book to the other. Typically, where the Bible sweeps me into its grand story of redemption in Christ, many evangelistic presentations reduce that grand story to “me and my personal relationship with Jesus.” We talk about the gospel as an announcement—a promise—that is revealed as a grand drama that unfolds from Genesis 3:15 to the close of Revelation. The gospel isn’t an offer to appropriate, decide, or contract for with Jesus. It’s an announcement—a declaration—of God’s saving accomplishment in Jesus Christ. Promised in the Old Testament, the gospel is fulfilled in the New. The call to repent and believe is not the gospel, but the proper response to the gospel. In fact, the gospel is not a call to do anything—even to believe. The gospel itself is simply an announcement that we are therefore called to believe.
    • Surely the reign of the Messiah-King is key in the prophets, but the way in which he exercises this reign is inextricably linked to his priesthood. By fulfilling the law, bearing their sins, clothing them in his righteousness, giving them his Spirit, and returning to make all things new, this Messiah will indeed accomplish what Adam and Israel have failed to do. I would want to press the author a bit more on what he means when he adds, “So he sends us east of Eden into the world with the same task” of being priest-kings in his garden” (138). So is our mission the same as Christ’s? Are we recapitulating Adam and Israel, bearing the curse, and by our resurrection securing the restoration of all things? Is Jesus really the “Last Adam,” who does all of this for us, or the model for how we are to complete his redeeming work? I may be reading too much into that statement, but it would be interesting to hear more about that point

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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