Archive for the ‘Jeff Meyers’ Category

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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This is the conclusion to Frame’s discussion about historical/covenantal election in his The Doctrine of God (pp. 329-30):

Historical election and eternal election are distinct, but they cannot be entirely separated. Note the following:

1. Both historical and eternal election are aspects of God’s saving purpose. The election of Israel and the temporary election of individuals in history are means by which God gathers together those who will receive his final blessing.

2. As we have seen, the “remnant” of historical election is no less than Jesus Christ. Jesus himself is eternally elected by God (1 Pet. 1:20), together with those God has chosen to be in him. So in the end, historical and eternal election coincide [1]. In history, they do not; for historical election is a temporal process and eternal election is forever settled before creation.

All of the eternally elect are historically elect, but not vice versa. Historical election is the process in time by which God executes his decree to save the eternally elect. As God judges the reprobate through history, the difference narrows between the historically elect and the eternally elect. In the end, the outcome of historical election is the same as that of eternal election.


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This is from John Frame’s The Doctrine of God:

So although the election of Israel is by grace, there is an important
place for continued faithfulness. Individuals can belong to the chosen people, yet lose their elect status by faithlessness and disobedience. Branches can be broken off “because of unbelief” (Rom. 11:20).

When we consider divine rejection, we should not argue that the discarded branches were never really elect. There is a place for such reasoning, but it pertains to a different kind of election, which we will discuss in the following section. Here, however, we are talking about historical election. And in this context it is possible to lose one’s election. The discarded branches were indeed elect at one time, for they were part of the tree of Israel. Israel as a nation was really elect, before God declared them to be “not my people,” and they became elect again, when God declared them to be “sons of the living God.”


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Chiasms in James

Hopefully, my commentary on James will be out later this year. But here are a few chiasms for your consideration. I think the James 5 chiasm orginally came from Doug Jordan.

The entire book of James is focused on how the pastors and leaders (“brothers”) of the church use their tongues.

The Whole Book

A. 1:2-8 – Trials, faith, steadfastness
  B. 1:9-27 – Suffering, patience, etc.
    C. 2:1-7 – Rich and “the poor man”
      D. 2:8-13 – Love, liberty, and mercy
        E. 2:14-26 – Justification [dikaio] & works
          F. 3:1-12 – The tongue
        E’ 3:13-18 – Righteousness [dikaiosune], Wisdom, & works
      D’ 4:1-12 – The members at war
    C’ 4:13-5:6 – Rich & “the righteous one”
  B’ 5:7-18 – Suffering, patience, coming judgment, fruit, etc.
A’ 5:19-21 – Wandering, sin, death

James 5:1-18
  A. 5: 7-8 – be patient, as a farmer waiting for rain, fruit of the earth
    B. 5: 9 – do not grumble against each other
      C. 5:10-11- prophets/Job example of suffering, v10 “name of the Lord”
        D. 5:12 – above all, do not swear
      C’ 5:13-15 – how to deal with suffering, v14 “name of the Lord”
    B’ 5:16 – confess your sins to one another and pray for one another
  A’ 5:17-18 – pray, as Elijah prayed for rain, earth bore its fruit

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There is a scene in Prince Caspian, the second in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia that helps explain why it is we have four Gospels, that is four accounts of the Good News of Jesus Christ—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is the account of Lucy’s longed-for experience of Aslan, the Lion, remember, who symbolizes Christ in these stories. Finally, Aslan appears to Lucy.

The Great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large, wise face.
“Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” he answered.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

Every year you grow, you will find me bigger.

This is a form of the old scholastic maxim adaequatio rei et intellectus—”the understanding of the knower must be adequate to the thing known.”

Thomas Aquinas put it this way: “Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the one receiving it.”

This “adaequatio” principle can be applied to our understanding of Jesus Christ. But not only is this true of individuals, but it is true of the church as a whole.


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Nobody posted anything today, so I may as well continue my reflections on the parables. I’ve had a busy day today, but I have about an hour of free time while the rest of the family watches Lost. I’m almost finished with the end of the third season, but not quite. By next week I should be caught up.

In my first post I noted that the parables of Jesus were not simply illustrative stories. They are really nothing like the kind of simple, homely illustrations that preachers often use to explain difficult concepts to their congregations. Just to be clear: there’s nothing wrong with illustrating one’s sermonic statements. Nothing at all. That’s just not what the parables of Jesus are. Parables are more mysterious than that.

The meaning of the word “parable” is somewhat elastic in the Scriptures. The word “parable” refers to a teaching device whereby two things are compared. It can refer to proverbs, wisdom oracles, fables, allegories, riddles, and even dark enigmatic sayings. We have to determine its meaning from its usage.

When the word appears on Jesus lips, it already has a frame of reference, a history. What might that be? The Hebrew Scriptures. The few examples of “parables” (mashal) in the old creation are very revealing.


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Once a upon a time, one Sunday morning, a pastor mounted his pulpit for the sermon and said the following:

A troubled young man walked into a downtown high-rise building. As he approached the directory on the wall, he took out a small booklet and looked back and forth from the booklet to the directory. Satisfied, he moved over to the elevators and waited so he could enter one by himself.

When an empty elevator opened, he entered and punched four buttons: 9, 35, 42, 46.

When the door opened on the 9th floor, he leaned out of the elevator and looked around. The floor appeared to be empty. He could hear many people talking, but could make no sense of the words. And the level didn’t seem to have a solid floor. Vertigo seized him when he looked down. He ducked back into the elevator and rose to the next stop.

Poking his head out again on the 35th floor he saw frenetic activity: people running, jumping, and moving the human body in every conceivable way. The confusion of colors and the noise of huge crowds made his head spin. So he allowed the door to close and punched button number 42.


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