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What I Read Online – 01/17/2013 (p.m.)

18 Jan
    • In understanding why evangelicals turn to Catholicism, we must confess that churches today in the Protestant tradition have much for which to answer. Many evangelical churches today are, practically speaking, dog-and-pony shows. Not only has reverence for a thrice holy God disappeared in our worship, but even the very truths that make us Protestant, truths for which people have died, such as justification by faith alone, have been jettisoned for pithy epithets that would not seem out of place in a Roman Catholic Mass or, indeed, a Jewish synagogue. Our polemics against Rome will be of any lasting value only when Protestant churches return to a vibrant confessional theology, rooted in ongoing exegetical reflection, so that we have something positive to say and practice alongside our very serious objections to Roman Catholic theology.
    • The Reformation doctrine of justification was not something about which Protestant theologians could afford to be tentative. At stake is not only the question of how a sinner stands accepted before God and, in connection with that, how he is assured of salvation (1 John 5:13), but also the goodness of God toward His people.

       

      In the end, our controversy with Rome is important because Christ is important. Christ alone—not He and Mary (LG 62)—intercedes between us and the Father; Christ alone—not the pope (LG 22)—is the head of the church and, thus, the supreme judge of our consciences; Christ alone—not pagan “dictates of conscience” (LG 16)—must be the object of faith for salvation; and Christ’s righteousness alone—not ours (LG 40)—is the only hope we have for standing before a God who is both just and the Justifier of the wicked. To move to Rome is not only to give up justification and, thus, assurance— even more so, it is to give up Christ.

    • Create a leadership culture marked by gospel astonishment, joyful repentance, and corporate prayer
    • Pray for, ordain, train, and equip elders for discipleship as well as in church discipline
    • Put the DNA of the gospel into the blood and heartbeat of the whole church family
    • Build a worship culture that is both a showing and telling of the gospel—not just telling
    • Lastly, we need to learn how to celebrate gospel breakthroughs as a church family
    • The Loving Father

         

      by Allan Murray

           

         

       

    • There is one more thing that we must note. When the elder brother objects to what he sees as an unseemly celebration and refuses to come in, the father goes out and entreats him, but he remains outside. This is important. It points to God the Father, entreating the sinner, even the one who is too proud to come. However, this refusal does not dampen the celebrations on earth, and it certainly does not dampen the rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. The earthly father beautifully describes his reason for making merry: “This your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (v. 32). That was what the experience was like for the earthly father. How much more will God the heavenly Father rejoice over a sinner who was spiritually dead and finds eternal life, who was lost and is found.
    • Self-righteousness cannot exist without producing an attitude of moral superiority, a lack of mercy, and a joyless servitude. The elder brother of the prodigal in Jesus’ parable is a living picture of these characteristics that always suckle at the breast of self-righteousness.

       

    • If you’re fed up, tired of your parents’ strictures, and just waiting for the first opportunity to go to the far country, I beg you to reconsider your plans. Most prodigals don’t come back. Some find success and don’t come back. Many find death and can’t come back. Your restlessness is rebellion against love. Don’t minimize it by renaming it “sowing your wild oats,” “my time in the world,” or “trying it out.” It’s sin, and it’s sin against love.
    • But the father in the parable loved the older son as well, reminding him that all his wealth and property was at his disposal. The older son needed to reorient his thinking. He needed to see that they had something to celebrate. The father reminded him that the younger son was his brother (“this brother of yours,” v. 32). There had to be a party, for the one who had been spiritually dead had found life. The one who had been lost was now found. Sinners came to the party because the Shepherd had found them. The father was inviting the older son into the party as well, pleading with him to come in. Would the older brother recognize his self-righteousness, arrogance, and lovelessness, and come to the party, or would he continue to resist the invitation because of their stubbornness and hard hearts? The parable ends with an invitation for the older brother to come to the party. Just so, Jesus was inviting the Pharisees and scribes and sinners to respond to the love of God in Christ.
    • That gave me the opportunity to point out how the architecture of the cathedrals, the form of the worship environment in those buildings, put my students in the “mood” for worship, as it were. That, of course, was the very reaction the cathedrals were designed to spark. Great care and thought went into the design of the cathedrals. The designers wanted a form that would quicken in people a sense of the loftiness of God, of the otherness of God. It saddens me that Protestants do not usually take the same care in church design. Our worship environments are often utilitarian. Sanctuaries are designed along the lines of cinemas or television studios. Such environments are not wrong, but many people would testify that such settings do not inspire worship in the way traditional church interiors do
    • The classical conception is that beauty consists of an arrangement of integral parts into a coherent whole, according to proportion, harmony, symmetry, and similar notions.
    • Aristotle says in the Poetics that “to be beautiful, a living creature, and every whole made up of parts, must … present a certain order in its arrangement of parts” (Aristotle, volume 2, 2322 [1450b34]).
    • Metaphysics: “The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree” (Aristotle, volume 2 1705 [1078a36]).
    • It is important to note that the idea of ‘symmetry’ in ancient texts is richer then its current implication of bilateral similarity, though it incorporates that as well. It also refers precisely to the sorts of harmonious proportions characteristic of objects that are beautiful in a classical sense.
    • Symmetry also is the appropriate harmony arising out of the details of the work itself: the correspondence of each given detail to the form of the design as a whole
    • Hutcheson goes on to adduce mathematical formulae, and specifically the propositions of Euclid, as the most beautiful objects (in another echo of Aristotle), though he also rapturously praises nature, with its massive complexity underlain by universal physical laws as revealed, for example, by Newton. There is beauty, he says, “In the Knowledge of some great Principles, or universal Forces, from which innumerable Effects do flow. Such is Gravitation, in Sir Isaac Newton’s Scheme” (Hutcheson 1725, 38).
    • Thinkers of the 18th century—many of them oriented toward empiricism—accounted for beauty in terms of pleasure.

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

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Posted by on 18/01/2013 in Current Issues

 

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