Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to critique, from Dr. James White

Not often do I completely rip off someone else's work for the sake of this Blog. However, today is going to be an exception. I have to say that Dr. White is an incredibly smart yet humble man and that when he critiques someone we should take notice not only of what he says, but how he says it. I want to direct you, reader, to his blog for a critique of William Lane Craig's view of middle knowledge.

Welcome back.

I want to point out several things. First is the biblical emphasis that the post has, the repeated statement of being grieved at the sub-biblical nature of Middle Knowledge (Molinism). I think that this speaks to not only how but why we critique someone else who claims to be within the Christian faith. First, is the relation of their teaching to biblical revelation, in other words, how does what this person says relate to Scripture (our guide). Second, the critique focus upon the effect of the theology on those who embrace it. In this case, Dr. White is saying the theology in question points people away from scripture. Finally, he responds with his desire for repentance toward God for this sub-biblical theology/philosophy.

The Gospel centered focus of this gives all of us something to look toward as an example of how we should critique those whom we disagree. In a someone practical way I believe that we can rightly apply Philippians 4:9 to Dr. James White.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Grace Gem by J. R, Miller

If you don't get Grace Gems, I highly suggest that you do. They are both challenging and encouraging at the same time, and they give a picture of what Christians have thought and said in the past. They often go by author, and I have to say that J.R. Miller is quickly become someone I deeply respect. Here is today's devotion for your consideration.

(J. R. Miller, "The Beauty of Quietness" 1903)

"They will be like dew sent by the Lord." Micah 5:7

The lives of godly people are sometimes compared to the dew. One point of likeness, is the quiet way in which the dew performs its ministry. It falls silently and imperceptibly. It makes no noise. No one hears it dropping. It chooses its time in the night when men are sleeping, when none can see its beautiful work. It covers the leaves with clusters of pearls. It steals into the bosoms of the flowers, and leaves new cupfuls of sweetness there. It pours itself down among the roots of the grasses and tender herbs and plants. It loses itself altogether, and yet it is not lost. For in the morning there is fresh life everywhere, and new beauty. The fields are greener, the gardens are more fragrant, and all nature is clothed in fresh luxuriance!

Is there not in this simile, a suggestion as to the way we should seek to do good in this world? Should we not wish to have our influence felt--while no one thinks of us; rather than that we should be seen and heard and praised? Should we not be willing to lose ourselves in the service of self-forgetful love, as the dew loses itself in the bosom of the rose--caring only that other lives shall be sweeter, happier, and holier--and not that honor shall come to us? We are too anxious, some of us, that our names shall be written in large letters on the things we do, even on what we do for our Master; and are not willing to sink ourselves out of sight--and let Him alone have the praise.

Our Lord's teaching on the subject is very plain. He says: "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." That is, they have that which they seek--the applause of men.

"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." The meaning would seem to be, that we are not to wish people to know of our good deeds, our charities, our self-denials; that we should not seek publicity, when we give money or do good works; indeed, that we are not even to tell ourselves what we have done; that we are not to think about our own good deeds so as to become conscious of them; not to put them down in our diaries and go about complimenting ourselves, throwing bouquets at ourselves, and whispering: "How good I am! What fine things I have done!"

This is an insightful test of our lives. Are we willing to be as the dew--to steal abroad in the darkness, carrying blessings to men's doors, blessings that shall enrich the lives of others and do them good--and then steal away again before those we have helped or blessed awaken, to know what hand it was that brought the gift? Are we willing to work for others . . .
without gratitude,
without recognition,
without human praise,
without requital?

Are we content to have our lives poured out like the dew--to bless the world and make it more fruitful--and yet remain hidden away ourselves? Is it enough for us to see the fruits of our toil and sacrifice--in others' spiritual growth, and deeper happiness; yet never hear our names spoken in praise or honor--perhaps even hearing others praised for things we have done?

If you go about doing good in simple ways, in gentle kindnesses, not thinking of reward, not dreaming of praise, not hoping for any return--you are enshrining your name where it will have immortal honor! Our lesson teaches us that this is the way we are to live--if we are followers of Christ!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Husband and Wives as Christ and the Church

I was doing dishes this evening and I was simply musing on something, and I figured I would put it up on here for consideration. I would especially ask for a few wives ( maybe even my own) to comment.

In Ephesians 5, Paul likens the Husband and Wife to Christ and the church, and says that wives are to submit to their husband's as they submit to The Lord. Now in general if Jesus were to ask you to do something, and you were to fail to do it (ie, the 3 and prayer on the Mt. of Olives) it would be sin. My thought was, does this follow with the husband wife relationship or is Paul simply saying that this is the seriousness with with you are submit to your husband.

So ladies, If you husband asks you to clean the house, make dinner, have sex, whatever, is it in your mind that you are to submit to him as to Jesus. Do you think you are to submit to the request as if Jesus was asking?

As a note, I have no conclusion, or statement either way, I am not looking for my wife to do something, but I am posing a serious theological question.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A discussion of Heb 1:1-2, with an Outlawpreacher

On twitter, I have been having a discussion with a guy by the name of pastornar abbout Hebrews 1:1-2, and it's relation to direct revelation from God to us(you). Keep in mind that twitter limits you to 160 characters, several of which go toward the persons name, ect...

"I believe the Scriptures say that in these last days he has spoken to us in/thru his Son.... If the Head of the Body cannot directly communicate with the Body we have a weak, sick, handicapped Body."

Now he is referencing as you can tell, Hebrews 1:1-2.

Here is what that text says, (ESV) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Simple questions here:
What is then tense of Spoken, I would say past.
Did God speak to your fathers by the prophets? Unless you are Jewish, No.
Did the author of this text mean for it to imply that Christ is actively speaking to the people via special revelation? I Would say no, and here is why --

According to Vincent's Word Studies, the literal greek rendering of the phrase 'in these last days' is "at the last of these days." Notable Commentator John Gill says about this -
[...] the Alexandrian copy, the Complutensian edition, and several other copies, read, "in the last of these days": perfectly agreeable to the phrase באחרית הימים, used in Gen_49:1 to which the apostle refers, and in which places the days of the Messiah are intended; and it is a rule with the Jews, that wherever the phrase, "the last days", is mentioned, the days of the Messiah are designed: and they are to be understood not of the last days of the natural world, but of, the Jewish world and state;[...]

Clearly the time period of Christ was the 'last days' for the Jewish nation and for temple based Judaism with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.
The question that should follow in our minds then is, Does this passage speak of direct personal special revelation from Christ to all individual Christians, or is it speaking about God's revelation of the Gospel through his son? Given the direct context I would submit that the later interpretation is more accurate to what the author had in mind when writing this text.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Biblical Modesty v. Legalist Dress Codes

I think that the topic of biblical modesty for women is one that is both of prime importance and practical significance. To that end, I would like to submit a view to be considered, namely that a legalistic dress code is equally sinful when compared to immodest dress.

"Being more conservative than scripture is no more praiseworthy than being more liberal than scripture." - Doug Eaton

The problem of the legalistic dress code is that it does not allow two important things. First, it denies woman's ability to live the gospel out in their dress, and instead it forces women back under the law. Second, it defines what is 'modest' generally in terms of Historical American dress, and thus, defines the bible's concept by our culture. Let me give an example. The blog Modesty tells us that " Modest dress is dressing in dresses or skirts [...]" it continues to say that if a women isn't covered from neck to ankle, with full sleeves that "she is dressing like a harlot." I would love to hear this women try to give a biblical guideline, for someone of a non-american culture. I also loved the womans statement after showing some photo's that when asked about these womens dress she states, "If he is a real godly man he will tell you that these women look like harlots." The arrogance that is present is staggering.

Looking at the Bible:

The bible speaks of modesty at several points, most clearly, 1 Tim 2:8-10. It is also noteworthy, that women in Proverbs 31 is never said or give a specific mode of dress other then she is clothed with fine linen and purple (ESV).

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works. (1 Timothy 2:8-10 ESV).

The questions to be answered are, what is respectable apparel, and what is costly attire? I don't think that these questions have a specific answer, and by that I mean that the answer is different for different cultures. In some cultures, that may mean neck to ankle, in others it may mean something less. I can only imagine that standard being applied to places where weather would make that impossible, or where it is still only hide that is used for coverings. My point is this, we must allow the gospel to define modesty for us, not a set of rules. We need to function from grace and in a manner that is set at glorifying God, not obeying the law.