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Archive for June, 2012

In our I hope brief blog-versation, Doug Wilson has posted a couple more things to think about. In one he asks who our father/Father is. We either have God or the devil as our father. Well, yes and no. I’m with Doug in what he’s getting at, I think, but here again I’m not so sure about terminology. The devil as father was a liar from the beginning. Well, every child lies instinctively. You don’t have to teach kids to lie. Those little children that Jesus wanted to come to him were “of their father the devil” in some sense. So am I, since I still have an Adamic death-nature that messes with me — and as far as I’m concerned Romans 7 STILL is talking about that, even if I’m increasingly lonely in thinking so.

When Peter confessed Jesus as the son of the Living God, Jesus blessed him for listening to the Father. Five minutes later Jesus condemned him as a mouthpiece of Satan.

Also, of course, I had a physical father; and if I were a Presbyterian clergyman I would address Presbytery as “Fathers and Brethren,” acknowledging that older minister are fathers to younger ones. Every human being has God the Father as his father by creation; Adam as his father by generation; and the devil as his father by Adam’s decision to give the world to him. Christians have God the Father as father because they are in Christ, the Son.

Perhaps I should write “faithful Christians.” It seems to me that the Bible is telling us to be concerned about who is faithful, who trusts and obeys, and leave the heart (and “regeneration”) to God. (more…)

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The following material was published in 1984 in Christianity and Civilization No. 4: The Reconstruction of the Church, pages 6-9, and are reprinted here as grist for the mill of the discussion of “evangelicalism.” Footnotes have not come through, of course. Though this material is offered in connection with a concern for “evangelicalism” raised initially by Rev. Douglas Wilson, I am as certain as I can be that Doug would agree with what is written here about the dangers spoken of.  My point is that one of the several meanings of “evangelical” is precisely someone who would agree with Whitefield and the Methodists in connection with the problems of the Great Awakening. If you want to understand much of what is meant by “evangelicalism” in America, you need to understand the evils of the Great Awakening. — JBJordan

Beginning of citation:

As a result of all this [the inability of the Reformers to get full liturgical worship and weekly communion in place in the churches], protestant people came to think of preaching as the most important aspect of the institutional Church. This was a mistake, because God has not given many gifted orators to the Church. (St. Paul was ridiculed for his lack of oratorical skill, and Moses had the same problem; see Exodus 4:10ff. and Acts 20:7-9; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 10:10.) The proclamation of the gospel needs the pastoral context of the whole “body life” of the Church, and particularly needs the seal of the sacraments. By its exaltation of preaching as a charismatic art, the Reformation moved in the direction, subtly and unintentionally to be sure, of undermining the Church itself. (more…)

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I wrote my beef about “regeneration” a decade ago, and I don’t really see the need to reopen what I think now. (Jordan, Thoughts on Sovereign Grace and Regeneration: Some Tentative Explorations. Biblical Horizons Occasional Paper No. 32; available for $5.00 from Biblical Horizons, Box 1096, Niceville, FL 32588.)

But.

My pal Doug Wilson has been writing a series of essays on “Life in the Regeneration” (I like the title!) and I’m being constrained to say something. So let me do this as a series of points.

1. I’m a postmillennialist, because I actually believe (gasp!) that Jesus was serious when He said He intended to disciple all nations.

Disciple.

All.

Nations.

Got it?

So, I don’t think I have to get everything right today. In fact, I know I won’t. In the year AD 35,678, some theologian in what is now Sri Lanka will come up with the very best explanation of the things under discussion, and I’m willing to wait.

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Nicodemus’s conversation with Jesus in John 3:1-15 is sometimes regarded as an illustration of the tremendous stupidity of the Jews of our Lord’s day. Nicodemus is treated as just some guy who comes to Jesus at night because he doesn’t want to get into trouble by being seen with Him. Nicodemus tries to butter Jesus up by telling Him that he and his pals know that Jesus has come from God. Then, when Jesus says that one must be born again-from-above, Nicodemus is so dumb or sarcastic that he says, “Uh, duh, well, uh, how can a person be born when he’s already old, huh? Uh-hyuh, uh-hyuh! He can’t just crawl back, uh, into his momma and be born again, can he?”

Well, uh, duh, no, that’s not what is going on. First of all, the Holy Spirit is not wasting His breath showing us Jesus putting down various morons. This conversation is included because it is profound. Second, John’s gospel deals with profound depths, as all expositors agree, and so again this is not some stupid conversation. Third, Nicodemus was a member of the great Sanhedrin (John 7:50), which means he had served in a local sanhedrin as a judge for a number of years before being selected to the first small sanhedrin, then after more years advancing to the second small sanhedrin, and finally being approved to be one of the 70 members of the Great Sanhedrin (Article, “Sanhedrim,” in McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature [1867]). He was therefore an older man, probably twice Jesus’ age and worthy of respect. Fourth, Jesus tells us that Nicodemus was “the teacher of Israel” (John 3:10). Are we to take this as sarcasm, unworthy of the spotless son of man who knew to respect the aged? No, Jesus means what he says: Nicodemus was the preeminent theologian and teacher in Israel, and therefore on the surface of the earth, and not a fool.

Finally, Nicodemus was not at all reluctant to defend Jesus in public (John 7:50) and to be seen helping to bury him (19:39). (I’ll bet Caiaphas was pretty angry about that.) He came to Jesus at night in order to have a long conversation with Him uninterrupted. The notion that Nicodemus was not a believer does not stand up. He certainly was a faithful old covenant believer who was headed for paradise. If by “regeneration” we mean someone who has a life with God and is destined for heaven, Nicodemus was regenerated every bit as much as Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah.

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During the last couple of weeks, Douglas Wilson has issued several posts over on his Blog and Mablog blog that deal with “evangelicalism” and who is and who is not an “evangelical.” In the course of these postings, Doug has written that while I am a fine Christian who has much to offer everyone, I’m not what he means by “an evangelical.” I’m a conservative Biblicistic protestant (my phrase), but not an “evangelical.” See here and here. None of this really bothers me, but I have received more than one request that I comment on the issue involved, including from Doug himself. Hence this first of a series of essays.

(The essay of mine to which Doug refers is Thoughts on Sovereign Grace and Regeneration: Some Tentative Explorations. Biblical Horizons Occasional Paper No. 32, January, 2003; available for $5.00 from Biblical Horizons, Box 1096, Niceville, FL 32588; or see here.)

First of all, then, what is “an evangelical”? That will be our topic in this posting. The use of the adjective “evangelical” as a noun is, to start with, a bit strange, but “Evangelical Christian” is the actual term, with “evangelical” being shorthand.

The usual and broad meaning of “an evangelical” in the United States (where it matters most) is this: someone who accepts that the truth claims of the Bible are without error not only doctrinally but also with respect to historical and spatial matters, who accepts the teaching that God is three equal persons in one Godhead, and who trusts in the work of Jesus Christ alone for his justification and salvation. This is the definition that will get you into the Evangelical Theological Society, of which I have been a card-carrying member since 1976. And in this sense, James B. Jordan is most definitely “an evangelical.” And I know that Douglas Wilson fully accepts that this is so.

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2012 Annual Biblical Horizons Conference.

Dates: 16-20 July, Monday evening to Friday noon.

Topic: Back to Basics.

Speakers:
        Peter Leithart: Gratitude and Thanksgiving.
        Jeff Meyers: The Ministry of the Church as Priest, King, and Prophet.
        James Jordan: Basics of Biblical Worldview.
        Toby Sumpter: Children and the Kingdom

Worship: Sung Vespers each evening; Psalm Roar in the mornings.

Film: The Complete Metropolis. With the discovery of the missing 25 minutes in Argentina two years ago, it is now possible to view the entire 2 and 1/2 hour film for the first time since 1927. James Jordan will lead discussions of the remarkable use of Biblical and Christian imagery and symbolism. Metropolis argued that it is the church and acts of Christian sacrifice that alone can reconcile workers and capitalists, and prevent communist revolution.

Price: $100 per adult. $75 per high school or college student. $125 for families.

Youth Conference?: Friday night and Saturday morning. Since many young people stay over from BH with the intention of going to the CREC Youth Conference in Texas, we may have a meeting of the RPZTL* this year and present material on how to think Christianly about the present world.*RPZTL: The BH youth arm: the Righteous Power Zombie Terror League (Righteous in Christ; Powerful in the Spirit; Dead, yet Alive; Wise in the Fear of the Lord; Leagued in the covenant).

Contact: jbjordan4@cox.net

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Here are three issues in regard to the Eastern Church.

First, here is the quote from Bavinck’s The Doctrine of God, page 317, Banner of Truth edition (1977) under the heading of Inter-Personal Relations.

The Greeks derived the unity of God’s essence and the unity of the persons not from the divine nature as such, but from the person of the Father. He is the only ‘originating cause.’ The three persons are not viewed as three relations within one essence, the self unfoldment of the Godhead, ‘but the father is viewed as the one who imparts his being to the Son and to the Spirit. As a result, the Son and the Spirit are so coordinated that both in the same manner have their ‘originating cause’ in the Father. In both, the Father reveals himself. The Son causes us to know God; the Spirit causes us to delight in him. The Son does not reveal the Father in and through the Spirit; neither does the Spirit lead us to the Father through the Son. The two are more or less independent of each other; each leads to the Father in his own peculiar way. Thus, orthodoxy and mysticism, mind and will are placed in antithetical relation to one another. And this peculiar relation between orthodoxy and mysticism characterizes the religious attitude prevailing in the Eastern Church. Doctrine and life are separated: doctrine is for the mind only; it is the fit object of theological speculation. Next to it and apart from it there is another fountain of life, namely the mysticism of the Spirit. The fountain does not have knowledge as its source but has its own distinct origin and nourishes the heart. Thus a false relation is established between mind and heart; ideas and emotions are separated, and the link that should bind the two in ethical union is lacking.

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Elsewhere on the blogosphere men are mocking the wearing of collars and albs to lead in worship. When it is pointed out that historically Reformed ministers have worn daily uniforms and robes in worship, it is replied that that was then and this is now. We ought to conform to our age. Bah, humbug.

 

1. We don’t follow the world; we lead it.

 

2. We don’t conform to culture; we change it.

 

3. We don’t take up our ideas from what gooey liberal and gooey evangelical churches do or don’t do; we get our instructions from the Bible.

 

4. Jesus had a special and very valuable tunic (John  19:23-24). Compare Exodus 28:40. Jesus’ special tunic and several pieces of outer garments correspond closely to the special garments of the priests. Apparently these most modern of bloggers have got better sense in how to dress than did their Lord. They might take their cue from the doctrine of union with Christ and what that might mean for them as officers in the army of the Lord of Hosts.

 

5. Back in the day when clergy wore uniforms and the Church was an army, we were well on the way to world conquest. Compare today.

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Schizophrenia?

Stellman June 6, 2012 1:01 PM
> Dave, > Jason
>
> I am surprised this is so hard for me to communicate effectively. Prosecuting Leithart while inwardly struggling with my questions was easy, because the issue
was NEVER “Whose views are correct?” In a Reformed denomination we all operate
under the supposition that our doctrinal standards give us the Bible’s system of
doctrine, and we’ve all made vows to that effect.
>
> I could have been a militant Muslim and prosecuted Leithart, because from
where I sat, his views were outside the pale of the Confession and Catechisms.
My own inward struggles had nothing to do with anything, they were a completely
separate matter.
>

Rosenstock-Huessy contended that schizophrenia was the paradigmatic mental illness of modernity, because it was the carrying of “objectivity” to its logical conclusions. Rosenstock-Huessy is in a sense following along after Chesterton when he said that insanity was not the loss of reason, but when reason is all that one is left with. Chesterton was referencing a paranoid, and Rosenstock-Huessy, schizophrenia, but both may be diseases of rationalistic modernity (post modernity will have different illnesses).

What Rosenstock-Huessy meant was that the schizophrenic is the one who carries objectivity so
far forward that he does away with his own subjective being, and his very person, or ex-person, becomes only an object to be observed along with everything else. He gives as an example the professor who wanted to be wired to be able to watch, through his own brain, brain surgery being done on him.

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Discussions on the catholicity of the church have led one RC advocate to write to me that according to 2 Timothy 1:16-18, Paul is clearly and unmistakably praying for a dead person. He points to a couple of Protestant writers who had agreed with this, though they are in a tiny minority. Search this out on line and you’ll find Roman Catholics insisting on this as if it were certain. Let’s see what Paul actually says:

16 The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; 17 but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. 18 The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered at Ephesus.

First of all, clearly Onesiphorus was a believer, baptized into union with the ascended Jesus Christ, faithfully serving the Lord. So, how on earth can Paul ask that he receive mercy on the day of judgment? Is his salvation in any doubt? Is there something lacking in his salvation by Jesus? To ask the question is to answer it: No, or course not. Paul cannot possibly be asking for Onesiphorus to be given mercy on the final day. The suggestion is ridiculous.

Therefore, Paul must be praying for mercy on the day that is near at hand: the judgment on the Old Creation in the years leading down to the year AD 70, the tribulation that came upon the entire Oikumene.  

With this in mind it becomes clear why Paul asks for mercy on Onesiphorus’s household. The tribulation about to break out over the whole Oikumene could be a horror for wives and daughters, for small children and the aged, as well as for men.

 Theologically, we find a unity in the passage. Onesiphorus was willing to be seen with Paul when the latter was in chains. He took the serious risk of associating with the criminal Paul, and this put his own family at risk. But beyond this practical consideration, Paul is saying that those who put themselves at risk for the Kingdom are those to whom God is likely to show mercy — at least to their families — during times of tribulation.

In short, there is absolutely nothing in this passage that hints that Onesiphorus is dead. Paul asks that he find mercy during the coming tribulation, which means he is alive.

Finally, there is 2 Timothy 4:19, “Greet Prisca and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.” Again, this has been taken to mean that Onesiphorus must be already dead. Uh, duh, no. We have already been told that Onesiphorus sought Paul out and had rendered great service for him at Ephesus. It’s a whole lot more likely that Onesiphorus is not at home, but doing something else for Paul at this time, perhaps even visiting churches like Timothy and Titus. As we have seen, he certainly is not dead.

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