What I Read Online – 12/12/2012 (a.m.)

12 Dec
    • Just as a practical matter, a reading of Bart Ehrman’s many books, along with similar efforts, reveals that those who claim to abandon the New Testament in order to “reconstruct the events of history” find themselves coming back to the New Testament again and again. The reason for this is simple — there are no comparable sources.
    • The interesting point about Ehrman’s proposed path of liberation for Christian believers is the fact that Ehrman is himself no longer a believer. He was once a conservative evangelical, but now describes himself as an agnostic who has left the church.
    • But the New Testament does not present itself merely for the purpose of theological reflection. It makes unvarnished historical claims and direct statements of fact.
    • Christianity stands or falls on the truth concerning Jesus, and thus it also stands or falls on authority and truthfulness of the Bible. What you believe about historical truth defines what you believe about Jesus Christ. Without the revealed truths of the New Testament, there is no Christianity, just superstitions and fantasies about Jesus.
    • The third danger is that busyness can cover up the rot in our souls
    • The second danger is that busyness can rob our hearts
    • For most of us, it’s not heresy or rank apostasy that will derail our profession of faith. It’s all the worries of life. You’ve got car repairs. Then your water heater goes out. The kids need to see a doctor. You haven’t done your taxes yet. Your checkbook isn’t balanced. You’re behind on thank you notes. You promised your mother you’d come over and fix faucet. You’re behind on wedding planning. Your boards are coming up. You have more applications to send out. Your dissertation is due. Your refrigerator is empty. Your lawn is too long. Your curtains don’t look right. Your washing machine keeps rattling. This is life for most of us and it’s choking the spiritual life out of us.
    • Jesus knows what he’s talking about. As much as we must pray against the devil and pray for the persecuted church, in Jesus’ thinking the greater threat to the gospel is sheer exhaustion
    • The first danger is that busyness can ruin our joy
    • Over the past year I’ve come to see that too often I plan no margin in my weeks, reverse margin actually. I look at my week and before any interruptions come or any new opportunities arise or any setbacks occur I already have no idea how I’m going to get everything done. I see the meetings I need to have, the sermons I need to prepare, the emails I need to write, the blogs I need to post, the projects I need to complete, the people I need to see and figure that if everything goes a little better than expected, I’ll be able to squeeze it all it in. But of course, there are no ideal weeks, and I end up with no margin to absorb the surprises. So I hunker down, get harried, and get busy. That’s all I can do in the moment because I didn’t plan better weeks before.
    • Electronics
    • Activities
    • Why do we have such a hard time as parents placing limits on electronics and activities? Both can appeal to parents for less-than-admirable reasons. Both can serve as a babysitter or a diversion. But the appeal of activities extends even further, to our very identity as parents. We actually want to be labeled “soccer mom” on rhinestone-studded tee shirts and coffee mugs. We carefully arrange our car decals so that every identity-marker is announced. The thought of removing or withholding our child from an activity threatens the very way we view ourselves.
    • I want to stress that this endurance in the faith does not rest on our strength.
    • “Why I do not believe in replacement theology”
      • The kind of preaching that reads Old Testament texts about Israel and assumes they must be about the church is seriously Christologically deficient. Likewise for the kind of preaching that reads Old Testament texts about Israel and assumes they must be about the modern day nation. Here are just two proofs:


        •   Many studious Jews see the servant songs in Isaiah as being about the nation. That’s no accident because, for example, “He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.'” (Isaiah 49.3). We know from New Testament interpretation that the servant songs are ultimately describing the Suffering Servant, Christ Jesus. No Christian denies that! And yet these songs do seem to describe a nation. That ‘nation’ is the new Israel.
        •   More clearly still, Matthew takes up the Hosea quote (Hosea 11.1) and applies it to Christ (Matt 2.15). Jesus is the true first born who is called out of Egypt.


        Before you start sending me emails, please read the following sentence carefully – this does not necessarily rule out a place for a modern day Jewish nation. That’s another moral, hermeneutical and political issue. And Christians who see Jesus as the true Israel will differ on this.


        But the point of the post is more basic. As preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ we need to preach Jesus as the true Israel. Too often our preaching launches straight from Israel to the church and not only is this missing out the logic of the Bible, we are hardly preaching Christ in all his glory, goodness and fulfillment. Our task is, after all, to proclaim him (Col 1.28) and what it means to be in him. We’re not preaching the church. 

    • Schreiner’s response to the crisis demonstrated that he and his family believed the promise in Isaiah. The process of Diane’s healing brought many unknowns, but Schreiner consistently pointed to the Gospel through all the questions.
    • The week after Diane’s accident, the Schreiner family prepared for a recovery time lasting as long as two years. On Nov. 19, roughly three months after the accident, however, Schreiner gave the following update: “We are full of praise, for Diane finished her outpatient therapy today! … That doesn’t mean that Diane is fully recovered, but she has made amazing progress since her accident.”
    • Now, nine years later, I’m still learning how to lovingly help my husband, but even more I am learning how to enjoy him. I have grown in looking for areas of grace and gifts. God has helped me use my tongue to encourage, build up, and praise him for how God has made him, rather than tear him down for how God didn’t make him.


      And just as I’m not surprised by my sin, I’m equally unsurprised that God would help me grow in this area. God works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). He provides a way of escape for our sinful self-righteousness (1 Corinthians 10:13). He promises to finish the good work he began in you and in me (Philippians 1:6). This is good news for us! God is faithful.


      Amazingly, even when I fell into the temptation to judge my husband God remained unswervingly committed to forgiving me because my sin—not in part but the whole—is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ. And sister, so is yours.

    • This brings us to our final clause: “through a man.”All the divine activity and power of preaching comes through a human vessel. John Calvin wrote, ”God has chosen so to anoint the lips and tongues of his servants that, when they speak, the voice of Jesus yet resounds in them.”[1]
    • Preaching should come through a man on fire
    • Preaching should come through a man of “woe.”
    • Preaching should come through a man who lives it.
    • Preaching should come through a man prepared.
    • Preaching should come through a man with authority
    • The gents at the Banner have gone with the popular title for The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689, which saves the hassle of writing “The (Second London) Baptist Confession of Faith 1677/1689” every time you want to refer to it. It includes the all-too-often-overlooked epistle to the judicious and impartial reader (hooray!) but sadly omits the appendix on baptism (understandable, but boo!). The text has been lightly edited for the modern reader.
    • The issue is not about controlling “what people do in their bedrooms” or “who they can love.” The issue is about what sort of union the state will recognize as “marriage” and confer all the benefits thereof.
    • This will happen in obvious ways at first–by ostracizing those who disagree, by bullying with political correctness, and by trampling on religious liberty. Surely, Christians must realize that no matter how many caveats we issue, not matter how much we nuance our stance, no matter how much we encourage or show compassion for homosexuals, it will not be enough to ward off the charges of hatred and homophobia. We will have many opportunities in the years ahead to walk in the steps of Jesus who when reviled, did not revile in return, and when he suffered, did not threaten but continued to entrust himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23).
    • In the traditional view, marriage is what it is. It’s the union of one man and one woman. That’s what marriage is, before the state calls it as such or confers any benefits on it. Marriage, in the traditional view, is a pre-political institution.
    • By recognizing gay unions as marriage, just like the husband-wife relationship we’ve always called marriage, the state is engaging in (or at least codifying) a massive re-engineering of our social life.
    • But, is Athanasius really the first complete New Testament list?  Despite the repeated claims that he is, we have a list by Origen more than a century earlier (c.250), that seems to include all 27 books.  Origen, in his Homilies on Joshua, writes:
    • This confirms that Origen has a New Testament canon that contains books authored by these eight men.  And these eight men are the authors of the 27 books in our New Testament.  But, even beyond this, Origen seems to indicate that this list is closed and complete. 
    • I chose the topic about three years ago. Some work I had done while teaching the epistle to the Hebrews, especially Hebrews 1 where Jesus is said to be superior to angels because he is the Son, prompted me to think about the topic more globally. Moreover, for some time I have been thinking through the hiatus between careful exegesis and doctrinal formulations. We need both, of course, but unless the latter are finally controlled by the former, and seen to be controlled by the former, both are weakened. The “Son of God” theme has become one of several test cases in my own mind.


      Since choosing the topic, however, the debates concerning what a faithful translation of “Son of God” might be, especially in contexts where one’s envisioned readers are Muslims, have boiled out of the journals read by Bible translators and into the open. Entire denominations have gotten caught up in the controversy, which shows no sign of abating. The last of these three chapters is devoted to addressing both of these points—how, in a Christian context, exegesis rightly leads to Christian confessionalism, and how, in a crosscultural context concerned with preparing Bible translations for Muslim readers, one may wisely negotiate the current debate.


      But I beg you to read the first two chapters first. They provide the necessary textual detail on which discussion of the controversies must be based.

    • Worrying pattern
       Here’s the worrying pattern I see in Tullian’s theology.


      In Jesus + Nothing = Everything, Tullian worked hard to remove any moral or ethical link between our obedience and God’s blessing.


      In Glorious Ruin, Tullian labored to sever any moral or ethical link between our sin and our suffering.


      In this latest blog post, Tullian is endeavoring to sever any moral or ethical link between our works for others and our relationship with God.


      I keep hoping it’s simply confusion, that he’s unwittingly confusing our unchangeable legal standing with God and our changeable spiritual experience of God’s loving fellowship. But he’s a clever guy with a really sharp mind, and it’s hard to understand that after all he’s read from his concerned friends, that he still won’t accept the difference between:


      (i) the believer’s unchangeable and unconditional status as God’s adopted son through justification, and


      (ii) the believer’s conditional and therefore changeable experience and enjoyment of God’s fatherly love (see more on that subject here).


      His confusion or conflation is really summed up in this paragraph:


      Any talk of sanctification which gives the impression that our efforts secure more of God’s love, itself needs to be mortified. We must always remind Christian’s that the good works which necessarily flow from faith are not part of a transaction with God–they are for others.


      Again, using words like “secure” and “transaction” create a distracting and plausible cover for the (unintentional) undermining of John 14:21 and 23, which clearly state that love-motivated obedience does result in greater revelations and experiences of God’s love. Maybe Tullian could help me see if I (and many others) have misunderstood these verses.

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

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Posted by on 12/12/2012 in Current Issues


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