What I Read Online – 09/15/2011 (a.m.)

15 Sep
    • The affirmation of biblical inerrancy is nothing more, and nothing less, than the affirmation of the Bible’s total truthfulness and trustworthiness. The assertion of the Bible’s inerrancy — that the Bible is “free from all falsehood or mistake” — is an essential safeguard for the Bible’s authority as the very Word of God in written form. The reason for this should be clear: to affirm anything short of inerrancy is to allow that the Bible does contain falsehoods or mistakes.
    • Michael Licona is a gifted and courageous defender of the Christian faith and a bold apologist of Christian truth. Our shared hope must be that he will offer a full correction on this crucial question of the Bible’s full truthfulness and trustworthiness. I will be praying for him with the full knowledge that I have been one who has been gifted and assisted by needed correction. Leaving his argument where it now stands will not only diminish the influence of Michael Licona — it will present those who affirm the inerrancy of the Bible with yet another test of resolve.
    • So much of what is taught in evangelical higher life circles is right and helpful, and I want to affirm much of it. The emphasis on surrendering oneself to Christ, the importance placed upon overcoming sin and living in holiness, and the awareness of the need for empowering by the Holy Spirit to defeat sin, spread the good news, and live a life pleasing to God are all praiseworthy.
    • But there exists in the idea of “letting go and letting God do it” an implicit passivity. Surprisingly, many people who strongly emphasize “releasing their wills to God” and “allowing him to do his work in and through them” are not passive at all in their own lives. Nevertheless, a form of passivity is present in their teaching, and the apostle Paul would have nothing to do with it if he were here.
    • But the apostle Paul would disagree. I’ll let him speak for himself; then you decide whether he is encouraging passive acquiescence or whether he is active, and encouraging others to be active as well.
    • This last verse is especially helpful because it emphasizes both that Christians must toil and struggle, but also that they must do it with the energy that God works within us. Similarly, when Paul says in Romans 8:13 that we need to “put to death the deeds of the body,” he emphasizes that it is to be done “by the Spirit.” But remember, such a statement is not an encouragement to passivity! We are to actively kill sinful deeds, and that activity is Spirit-empowered and Spirit-motivated.
    • One of the reasons I think this book is so important is that conservative evangelicals (particularly white ones) seem to have become more indifferent to the sin of racism during my lifetime. Why? One reason, of course, is the stubbornness of the sinful heart. We never want to hear about what is wrong with us. Another factor may be cultural. Many have made racism and prejudice virtually the only thing they will still call a “sin,” and they often lay the guilt for the sin of racism at the doorstep of those who are social conservatives. Because of that, many who identify themselves as conservatives simply don’t want to hear about racism anymore. They give lip service to it being a sin, but they associate any sustained denunciation of racism with the liberal or secular systems of thought. John’s book is a strong antidote to this misconception. His motivation is simply as a preacher of the Word to bring to light what God says in it regarding race and racism.
    • By the early 1990s, a powerful historiography had emerged that portrayed the doctrine of biblical inerrancy as “fundamentalist” and not as an “evangelical” doctrine. With this historiography in mind, the critic may have felt fully justified in labeling Dr. Henry a fundamentalist. For the critic, Henry would have been simply mistaken in identifying himself as an evangelical.


    • In this essay, I will reiterate the thesis that biblical inerrancy has been a church doctrine or Augustinian central teaching of the Western Christian churches, including evangelical Protestant churches. Consequently, evangelicals who affirm the doctrine of biblical inerrancy are by no means doctrinal innovators. By biblical inerrancy, I mean in shorthand the doctrine that the Bible is infallible for faith and practice as well as for matters of history and science.5 By the expression church doctrine, I am referring to a widespread shared belief of Christian churches that have had a historical existence in the West.
    • The new historiography that biblical inerrancy is a fundamentalist doctrine has shaped the thinking of a number of distinguished Protestant and Roman Catholic theologians and church historians
    • Augustine on Inerrancy
    • Eck on Inerrancy
    • Simon on Inerrancy
    • Leo XIII on Inerrancy
    • Protestant Viewpoints: James Kugel
    • Luther, Calvin, and the Protestant Orthodox
    • William Whitaker
    • Inerrancy Questioned and Defended
    • Coleridge, Sabatier, and Huxley
    • Reflections: Evangelical Self-Identity and the Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy
    • The doctrine of biblical inerrancy is no late imaginative creation of A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield in 1881 or of twentieth-century American fundamentalism. Rather, it is an essential evangelical belief based upon a biblical warrant. It resides squarely within the Augustinian tradition regarding the Bible’s truthfulness. Both
    • Billy Graham and Carl F. H. Henry
    • Hankins suggests that the two major tenets of Schaeffer’s speaking (and his broader program) were these: (1) Christianity is logically non-contradictory and (2) a system in which one can live consistently. Perhaps we could add a third: the living God reached out to a suffering world to offer it hope and salvation. Amid generous and wide-ranging engagement with major intellectual and cultural voices, Schaeffer propounded these themes in texts like He Is There and Is Not Silent, The God Who Is There, and Escape from Reason. His apologetic approach was presuppositional, but Schaeffer did not believe that this view abnegated understanding of and even affection for the non-Christian world. He practiced a rough-and-ready brand of cultural engagement but famously said that a Christian studies the world “with tears.” For Schaeffer, the intellectual life of the public Christian had intrinsic value even as it was, of necessity, missiological. One studied to understand, then set out to engage and persuade.
    • Schaeffer’s effect on evangelicalism, whether academic or popular, extends widely enough that it is difficult in the final analysis to quantify his influence. The number of pastors, scholars, missionaries, and other leaders affected by Francis Schaeffer number in the thousands, to be sure. Many of them frequent this site; some of them owe their love for theology and cultural engagement to Schaeffer, and others may credit their very salvation to him.
    • Reymond, Robert L. The God-Centered Preacher: Developing a Pulpit Ministry Approved by God
    • Reynolds, Gregory Edward. The Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures: Preaching in the Electronic Age
    • Ryle, J. C. Simplicity in Preaching
    • Shaw, John. The Character of a Pastor According to God’s Heart Considered.
    • Shedd, W. G. T. Homiletics and Pastoral Theology
    • Smith, Steven W. Dying to Preach: Embracing the Cross in the Pulpit
    • However, increasingly, Christian liberty has come to mean a neutral sphere where there are no better or worse answers. Like legalism, antinomianism only knows two settings: “Don’t” or “Do”; “Wrong” or “Right.” The missing middle term is “wisdom.”
    • Ironically, those who decry “worldliness” are often the most likely to embrace unreflectively aspects of modern (and postmodern) culture whose costs on truth, goodness, and beauty are remarkably high. Christian wisdom provokes us neither to reject any good gift of God’s providence and common grace nor to turn these gifts into idols. Avoiding these perilous extremes is always the tough business of discipleship. One glaring example today is technology.
    • We don’t just make tools; the tools also make us. This is as true of the nomadic and agricultural eras as it is of the industrial revolution and the information economy. Our tools shape the way we think, live, work, relate, and even envision our identity.
    • Efficiency became not only a criterion of industry and home and in the workplace, but pushed out ultimate questions of truth, goodness, or beauty from our social lives. In religion today, the question of whether a particular teaching is true, but whether it works—as William James put it, “its cash-value in experiential terms.”
    • Here again, we think we’re in charge. We’re just using tools to fulfill needs that reason identifies, when in actual fact the matrix of the technology we inhabit creates “felt needs” that it alone can meet.
    • However, it’s not just how to be a better parent or partner, or godly diet plans and seven steps to having your best life now. Even salvation—the most sacred concern—is profaned. It’s no longer a question of how we relate to the Triune God, but how we can be born again, go to heaven, and manage our personal growth. Even to affirm the new birth, heaven, and sanctification in this scheme is a hollow victory, since the map is no longer really soteriological (about salvation) but technical (about how to manage our lives).
    • So it’s not surprising that evangelical leaders like George Barna now encourage Christians to find their “spiritual resources” on-line rather than in local churches. Once we swallow the idea that we can ascend the hill of the Lord through our technological efforts, it hardly seems necessary to gather bodily with other sinners, confessing our sins and our common faith, interceding for Martha’s cancer or Bill’s lay-off, giving tangible offerings symbolic of our whole life belonging to the Lord in body as well as in soul. And if water baptism has nothing to do with real (spiritual) baptism, and if the Supper is merely about our active remembering rather than our receiving Christ’s gift of himself—his own body and blood, then we can do all of that spiritual legwork on the net. We can go around all of the troublesome physical stuff. We can go around Christ’s personal body as well as the bodies of the ecclesial body of Christ to “connect” directly with Christ one-on-one, or perhaps in that quintessential oxymoron: virtual communities.
    • Again, what we need is neither legalism (forbidding technology) nor license (embracing technology), but of thinking wisely as Christians—in the light of the whole biblical teaching relevant to these questions. However, when salvation itself is reduced to spiritual technology, the old words no longer mean the same thing. If we begin to understand salvation as God’s descent to us, through ordinary earthly means—the incarnate flesh of Christ, the creaturely means of grace, and the real community that shapes our discipleship over a lifetime, then we will at least have the most crucial coordinates for wise decision-making about our use of technology. More than that, we will understand the gospel not as good advice, steps, techniques, or procedures for life-management but as the good news that in Christ “salvation is of the LORD” (Jon 2:9).

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

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Posted by on 15/09/2011 in Current Issues


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