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Archive for the ‘Pastoral Theology’ Category

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.

(more…)

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One of the mysteries in Esther is why Mordecai refused to acknowledge Haman. We are never explicitly told, and such guesses as that he was continuing Yahweh’s war against Amalek do not carry weight. If such was Mordecai’s purpose he was in sin, because it was Yahweh’s war, not his. Saul did not move against Amalek until Yahweh ordered him to.

The notion that Mordecai was obeying the Second Word is also nonsense, because bowing to images of God is entirely appropriate. Abraham bowed to the Hittites, for example.

The clue lies in the question asked by the other members of the Persian Supreme Court (King’s Gate): “Why are you transgressing the king’s command?” Note that they did not ask why Mordecai refused to bow to Haman. The question was why he was disobeying the king. The only answer Mordecai gave was that he was a Jew, which of course identified Jews as rebels against the king and caused all the problems that ensued.
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What follows is a debate that took place on my Facebook page last October (2009). It really shouldn’t be allowed to slip down the wormhole of past FB posts. It’s worth reviewing. Perhaps my RC sparring partner, Bryan Cross, will want to add something to this.

It began with me posting a quotation from Martin Luther on enforced priestly celibacy:

. . . the pope has as little power to give this command as he has to forbid eating, drinking, the natural processes. . . No one, therefore, is duty bound to keep this commandment, and the pope is responsible for all the sins that are committed against this ordinance, for all the souls lost thereby, and for all the consciences thereby confused and tortured (Plass, What Luther Says, p. 888).

That was the catalyst for the following debate. (The reader should know that my FB rules forbid posting links to Roman Catholic propaganda sites in comments. That will explain a few lacunae in the flow of the argument.)

1. Kevin Branson: The Church has deemed it best that her ministers be single, and celibate, as Paul deemed it best. At present, the Church therefore requires a vow of celibacy from priests. Someday, that could change, and in certain situations exceptions are made even now, but ordinarily, them’s the rules. Nobody puts a gun to a priest’s head and forces them to take a vow of celibacy, nor did anyone force Luther to do so. It was his own choice, as it was his own choice to break his vow of celibacy.

2. Shawn Honey: Celibacy was chosen by Paul and he recommended it to others; it was not bound upon him from the outside, nor did he bind others to it. Peter chose to marry as did other Apostles and, presumably, countless elders (“husband of one wife…”). I think the point pertains to whether a church has the right to bind the consciences of its ministers in a way that Scripture seems to speak against.

3. Craig Lawrence Brann: True as Mr. Branson’s points are, it remains that the Apostle Paul had good reason for suggesting that men facing an apocolypse not be wed and likewise that women not become pregnant—this counsel was not at all timeless or abstract and it really is one of the roman church’s silliest Order’s to make apology for. Wasn’t it the same Apostle who called forbidding marriage a, ‘doctrine of demons.’ Hardly a class of teaching that ought only be obtained by the clergy!

4. Jeff Meyers: Good points, Sean. Remember, too, that the 1 Tim 3 passage (“husband of one wife”) is about the qualifications for “bishop” (episkopos).

5. Jeff Meyers: Craig, right on. Enforced celibacy for pastors is demonic, as Paul says.
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Ephesians is often treated as a pure type example of the Pauline method that “the indicative preceds the imperative.”

But what Paul does first is pray. Simply reading verse 3 and following involves readers in a prayer of thanksgiving to God–and much more so for those listening to the epistle read out loud in a Church gathering. This prayer then turns into a request for God to grant the Ephesians knowledge of what they have. And that practice, which involves the reader and listeners of the letter, sets the stage for the imperative at the end of the epistle, that the Ephesians should pray for everything.

God doesn’t begin with propositions. He begins by practice and teaching us by practice. That way we are in a position to understand both His propositions and his poems.

Theology should be compared more to dance than to book reading.

By the way, one of the astounding oddities I found reading the English translation of Bavinck’s first volume of Reformed Dogmatics (pp. 34, 35) is that he lists William Ames as a bad guy for defining theology as “the art of living to God.”

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A lot of people assume that planting a liturgical church is the kiss of death. “Do the contemporary thing, it’ll draw in the young people” they say. But planting a liturgical church is doable and its dividends are great, though it takes some up-front planning. So here are some tips: 

  1. Prepare your launch team to sing in parts and be familiar with your music (hymns and Psalms) before you officially launch the church. There is nothing sadder than seeing a poorly executed liturgical service. (more…)

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Charismatics have been much maligned for constantly “praising the Lord.” They would say if you hit your finger with a hammer, you should instantly say, “Thank you Jesus that You let me hit my finger…”  This of course, as we all know, is stupid. 

There was once a lady who had lost her eye glasses, and she asked the Lord to help her find them. She was commended by the great preacher Spurgeon, and he defended her against detractors who said,  “We should pray about BIG things, not silly trivialities.  This is a debasement of prayer, which is high, holy, and majestic.”  “What, prey tell” asked the Great Preacher, “is BIG to the Lord?”  And then in that majestic and poetic Victorian prose, he went on to exclaim the God who flung out the starry heavens, and keeps all planets and suns rolling in their proper course.  “One is no more difficult than the other for the Lord, who is infinite.”  It is true that for us, one is far bigger than the other.  But, we learn to trust God for big things by beginning with the small, and our trust is to be for ALL THINGS.

If it is true that we are all eventually called to be good judges, then what that especially means in a fallen world is that we become co-workers with God in bringing good out of evil.  Do we believe Romans 8:28?  Do we believe that God is bringing this sinful world to a final and glorious end?  Does He work through war, and death, and mayhem, and destruction, and every sinful act that the human race is capable of concocting? 

It is one thing to say “yes” in the abstract, but even there it can be hard.  The world however, is not a philosophy class on “the problem of evil.”  When we are called to be judges in real concrete situations, it is no longer abstract and far away.  It is present and at hand. 

(more…)

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