Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

I was asked to provide comments on the rainbow in the Bible. Here are some for starters:

1. God puts his warbow in the sky for HIM to see and remember the covenant.

2. In Revelation 4-5, this warbow is around His throne, so He sees it all the time.

        a. It’s green, emerald.

        b. Emerald is the stone of Levi (BHOP 19: Behind the Scenes)

        c. The Levites were camped in a square closest around the Tabernacle.

3. The other tribes have other colors, and at are the next rank around the Tabernacle.

        a. In Revelation 21-22, the City has these twelve colored stones at her border.

        b. The colored stones are chips of frozen rainbow.

        c. God’s people are His rainbow, through which He views the world.

4. Baptism, especially by sprinkling, puts rainbow on us.

        a. Rainbow is caused by light prisming through water.

        b. In baptism, God’s light is prismed through water to us, rainbowizing us, so we join the rainbow.

        c. Baptism washes away sin, but also glorifies (rainbowizes) and enlists us in the Rainbow Army for holy war.

5. In the Tabernacle, two tapestries encircled the rooms inside and out, at the upper and lower levels.

        a. These had cherubim (guardians) on them.

        b. They were woven of red, blue, purple, and white: rainbow colors. (Red and Blue-purple are the extremes of the rainbow prism.)

        c. They signified the angelic rainbow host around God.

6. The High Priest had the same rainbow colors on him.

        a. His garment had the same colors.

        b. He wore the rainbow stones on his chest.

        c. Now we are all made high priests, living rainbow warriors.

7. In the ritual of Ascension (Leviticus 1), the worshipper is by proxy put into the rainbow colors of the fire, after being divested of his old skin-clothes, and receives new fire-rainbow clothes.

        a. Again, this is like the High Priest.

        b. It is also the rainbow colors of the bride, as the worshipper ascends by proxy as an ‘ishsheh, a bride for Yahweh.

        c. Psalm 45 is a human explication of this ritual.

        d. We are all dressed in rainbow to be part of the bride of Christ.

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I spent the last few days at A Conversation on Denominational Renewal, which thankfully met in St. Louis. The conference was well attended, about 300 or more people. The audience was mostly PCA ministers and elders, but because it was held in St. Louis there were a good many Covenant Seminary Students and professors.

I’m not going to summarize the conference. All I will say is that it was quite stimulating and helpful. When they post the mp3s of the lectures on their website, you need to listen to them. I’ll try to alert everyone when they are posted.

I’d like for us to discuss one part of Jeremy Jones’s lecture on Wednesday morning. The title was “On Renewing Theology.” I think it was one of the most challenging lectures of the lot.

Jeremy addressed problems with the way we tend to conceive of and do theology in the Reformed world, especially the PCA. Early on he talked about “The Ecclesial Culture of Reformed Sectarianism.” He lamented the fact that so many Reformed ecclesial cultures end up as little more than “denominational police states.” How does this happen?


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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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Mediated Authority

A few years back I read Lesslie Newbigin’s little book Truth and Authority in Modernity (Trinity Press, 1996). I was particularly impressed with his argument in chapter 2 “The Mediation of Divine Authority.” Now, maybe this is old hat to many of you, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put quite this way. The question concerns the kind of authority that modern people demand as justification for religious truth.

First, he asks about the intention of Jesus for the future of the Church, specifically the mediation of his authority to future generations. He identifies three important indications of Jesus’ intention: 1) He chose, called, and prepared a company of people to mediate his authority; 2) to them he entrusted his teaching; and 3) he promised them the gift of the Spirit to guide them in matters that were beyond their present horizons.


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Traditionally, the Anglican Church has viewed itself as the “Via Media” or “Middle Way” between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. But I want to suggest that a helpful way of viewing Reformed churches is seeing them, in some sense, as a “Via Media.” 

The recent controversy in conservative Reformed circles has generally run along the fault line between High Church Calvinists and those more influenced by a Revivalist tradition coming out of the Great Awakenings. The charge is often leveled against High Church Calvinists that their openness to historic liturgy and a higher regard for and practice of the sacraments leads to people heading to Roman Catholicism and, to a lesser degree, Eastern Orthodoxy. Perhaps this is true but for the sake of clear and honest dialogue, we will assume this is true. But on the other hand, it seems that there is a constant hemorrhage of persons leaving more Revivalist Reformed churches for Baptist churches (this has been my experience) and this should be equally disturbing to us. After all, these folks will be viewed with endless suspicion until they recant their covenant baptisms and submit to re-baptism, something our Puritan forefathers would find outrageous.  (more…)

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Having spent time in a number of different kinds of churches/denominations over the years, it has been my observation that in every group there are those with a healthy catholic attitude toward other Christians and also those with a proud and condescending attitude toward others who call themselves Christians.

If we are going to follow the Biblical admonition, we should consider the strengths of other kinds of Christians, and not only harp on our own. Since I live at present in the remnant of what was once Calvinism, let me look from a Calvinistic/Reformed/Presbyterian standpoint at the strengths of other kinds of Christians. We Calvinists can argue rather convincingly that our tradition provides the highest and most thoroughly Biblical understanding of God, the creation, and the God-man relationship. Thus far in Christian history, no one has provided a more consistently Biblical understanding of these matters than the Calvinist Cornelius Van Til.

But do Calvinists have good music? Not by Lutheran standards. To be sure, the Genevan Psalter began as a very powerful musical accomplishment, but by failing to allow for musical instruments (a Biblical must), the Calvinists by and large failed to mature musically. It was the Lutherans who developed congregational song, and though there have been ups and downs in that tradition over the years, they still have by far and away the best congregational music and liturgy.

Baptists are better at evangelism. It stands to reason, since they do not understand the covenant, and see “conversion” as the only way of salvation. Still, one finds large numbers of world missionaries and inner-city missions coming from Baptistic circles.


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The BHrethren might be interested in this post I wrote on my personal blog which disagrees with John Gerstner’s understanding on the Church.  Amid all the discussion of eschatology and hypercalvinism and how the visible church may properly be called the body of Christ, I completely overlooked how Gerstner’s reasoning actually condemns the Westminster definition of the invisible Church as the body of Christ.   He writes,

We will not deny that a person who sincerely and truly makes a sound profession of faith in Christ is a member of His true church, but how do we (or they) know that all who make the profession sincerely believe it? How can they be sure that they are not receiving hypocrites? So long as officers cannot search the hearts of professing believers, they cannot know whether such professors are sincere, true believers or not; nor can they prevent the admittance of some nominal (in name only) believers.

So the rule is: he or she who is not regenerate may not be counted a member of the Church. But by this reasoning, the members of the invisible church also cannot be counted as members of the true church.  After all, according to the Westminster Confession, the invisible church, which is Christ’s body, consists of everyone who will ever be called into final salvation, whether or not they are yet regenerate or even conceived into existence.

The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

So, by Gerstner’s standards, this definition is in error. Those who are not yet sincere believers must never be defined as members of the body of Christ.

We can rehabilitate Gerstner’s concern by pointing out that the invisible Church is an eschatalogical plan (which, when brought to completion, will be brilliantly visible).  But this goes back to the problem Gerstner seems to have with eschatology, wanting a present invisible realm as an alternative to the problems of the present, rather than a future glory that is realized through those trials.  Death and resurrection is everything.

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