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Month: January 2007

Fundamentalism Compared and Contrasted with Reformed Theology

(Taken from Monergism.com on the Worldviews Section)

Fundamentalism and its Similarities with Reformed Theology

1: The inspiration and verbal inerrancy of Scripture
2: The Deity of Christ and the virgin Birth
3: The substitutionary atonement
4: Justification by faith
5: The physical resurrection
6: The bodily return of Christ at the end of the age.
7: Christ performed miracles

Fundamentalism and its Differences with Reformed Theology

1: The absence of historical perspective;
2: Ignores the Scriptures highly diverse literary genres
3: The lack of appreciation of scholarship; aversion toward any secondary theological training; anti-intellectual & often legalistic
4: The substitution of brief, skeletal, superficial creeds for the historic confessions.
5: The lack of concern with precise formulation of Christian doctrine; highly averse to theology
6: Pietistic, perfectionist tendencies (i.e., major upon “issues” such as protesting
Harry Potter movies; separating with Christians who are not KJV only);
7: One-sided other-worldliness – reclusive: church separate from the culture-the holy huddle (i.e., a lack of effort to impact their communities & transform culture); and a penchant for futuristic chiliasm (or: dispensational pre-millennialism).
8: Arminian tendency in theology (synergistic)

UPDATE 4.19.2012: Oddly enough, I’ve also noticed some of these tendencies within hyper-calvinist strains of fundamentalism. As opposed to being averse to theology, they take it up with gusto and are very concerned with precision. I guess you could call it the other end of the spectrum of fundamentalism.

Sad Irony

“There is a sad irony in the seeming success of many Christian churches and schools. The irony is that the more you adjust obscure Biblical doctrines to make Christian reality more attractive to unbelievers, the less Christian reality there is when they arrive. Which means that what looks like success in the short run, may, in the long run, prove to be failure. If you alter or obscure the Biblical portrait of God in order to attract converts, you don’t get converts to God, you get converts to an illusion. This is not evangelism, but deception.

One of the results of this kind of ‘success’ is that sooner or later the world wakes up to the fact that these so-called Christian churches look so much like them and the way they think that there is no reason to go there. If you adjust your doctrine to fit the world in order to attract the world, sooner or later the world realizes that they already have what the church offers. That was the story of much of mainline Protestantism in Europe and America in the 20th century. Adjust your doctrine – or just minimize doctrine – to attract the world, and in the very process of attracting them, lose the radical truth that alone can set them free.

There are thousands of pastors and churches today that do not think that clear, Biblical, doctrinal views are vital in the life of the church or the believer. They believe it is possible to grow a healthy church while leaving the people with few and fuzzy thoughts about what God is like. But ignorance about God is never a mere vacuum. The cavity created by ignorance fills up with something else.

Edward Norman, in his book, Secularization: New Century Theology, goes right to the heart of the problem when he describes what that something else is:

‘Christianity is not being rejected in modern society – what is causing the decline of public support for The Church is the insistence of church leaders themselves in representing secular enthusiasm for humanity as core Christianity.’ (Ibid, p. 10)

At first the world is drawn to a religious form of ‘enthusiasm for humanity,’ but then it wears thin and they realize that they can find it more excitingly on TV.

Romans 9 is a great antidote against such diseases in the church. This chapter is not rooted in ‘enthusiasm for humanity,’ but in the staggering, shocking, deeply satisfying sovereignty of God. My prayer is that we will see God for who he really is with his jagged peaks and fathomless deeps, and that, by his grace, many will come – not to celebrate themselves, but to worship God.”

– John Piper, My Anguish: My Kinsmen Are Accursed

Where I Currently Stand on Eschatology

Though I am reformed and hold to the historical-redemptive method of interpreting the Scriptures (ie the unfolding drama from Genesis to Revelation of God’s revealing of redemption and His glory, brought to fruition in Christ), I have not adopted the amillennial view of the end times (though I have not studied in depth on it at this point either and have not ruled it out).

But I would also like to make clear too, that after studying and reading on the subject, I have come to reject the pre-trib rapture as well, seeing that there is no real solid scriptural basis for this position. I do believe in the Second Coming of Christ, obviously, as stated in the Scriptures. People holding to this position though (pre-trib rapture) use the pillar text Revelation 3:10 as “proving” their point. But this verse is stating nothing of the sort concerning the rapture. First of all, what’s the context? Jesus, through John, is speaking to the church in Philadelphia first of all. This sets the context for where this verse comes into play. It says, “10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.” This verse, when put in its proper setting, is not at all conclusive to state that all the church will be raptured before the great tribulation. In fact to say that is the case is absolutely poor exegesis on behalf of many dispensational scholars. In order for this verse to mean that, you must come with a presupposition that the church will in fact be raptured before the tribulation, and then read that into the verse. Read it again in context. You’ll see that Christ is speaking to the church in Philadelphia, at a time when the young church was being severely persecuted, which we later find out would ramp up before Constantine would take power and establish Christianity as a kingdom-wide religion (which had its own upsides and downsides, another point though).

If you read even a little bit of early church history you will see how much the early church suffered. And Christ is speaking to this particular church in stating that because they have been faithful to Him, He will keep them from trying times coming upon the world (ie persecution of the church). You absolutely must read into this verse a presupposition that simply is not there to make it say what you want it to say. Just the fact that this position even puts forward this verse as a pillar text for their position gives me very little reason to believe that it is in fact the case. I’m not saying I know whether or not Christ comes back before or after the tribulation, I’m just stating merely that this verse cannot be used to prove a pre-trib rapture.

Also, within the idea of the pre-trib rapture is the idea that Christ will “secretly” return a second time, and then later return to judge the world (i.e. a third time). Scripture knows of no such thing. And you can check me on that. Over and over again, Scripture speaks of Christ returning only one more time, not two more times. It speaks of Christ returning once more to judge the living and the dead, and of the second coming. All the events relating to Christ’s return, judgment, etc, are all speaking of the same event, not two separate events. This seems to be very clear to me in the scriptures. But I’m not the final word obviously. Just from what I’ve read and seen at this point, I find no evidence of two separate returns. This obviously changes the view of the rapture for me.

In addition to this, the whole concept of the pre-trib rapture wasn’t even a thought in the church until the early 1800’s. There was a good 1800 years before this idea even came into the thinking of the church. That right there makes me take heed and review what the Scriptures actually say concerning the second coming of Christ. In my opinion overall, focusing primarily on eschatology is not as fruitful as knowing the rest of Scripture. Theologians and writers from church history make this clear by the amount upon which they focused on eschatology. Calvin didn’t even write commentary on Revelation. Matthew Henry wrote briefly on it. These men and others exposited primarily on the rest of Scripture that reveals the glory of God in the Gospel, not upon things that are speculative. It seems to me to be of much more importance to focus on the things that reveal the glory of Christ, in order that we may know Him more, be like Him more, and conform to Him in every way. That’s not to say that Revelation shouldn’t be read, I mena it is in fact Scripture, but I do believe there are things there which are simply mysterious and that we should get to know the things of God that have been revealed to us.

Also, I think a big misunderstanding of Revelation is that it is simply revealing the things of the end of the world. That is there obviously. But Revelations primary goal is to show Christ, reveal Christ, give us Christ, how Christ will reign, how mighty Christ is in all of His risen glory. This to me is the point of Revelation, revealing the glory of God in the face of Christ in order that we may love and know Him more.

The Mighty Chavez Speaks Again

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007 … htm?csp=34
“‘I don’t have the slightest doubt that it [socialism] is the only path to the redemption of our peoples, the salvation of our fatherland,’ Chavez told lawmakers to applause. He said he believes that socialism — not capitalism — is the only way to guarantee well-being not only for Venezuela, but the world.”

Yeah, because it worked out so well historically for, I don’t know, the former USSR, Cuba, China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Eastern Europe (which includes the Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Georgia, and many others)? Yeah, socialism is the hope of the world, I agree, and has been proven in economic experiments over and over again since Karl Marx thought it up. Not that Capitalism is the hope of the world either, but one system at least promotes efficient economic development while the other one inefficiently does the same, and ultimately hurts an economy in the long-run and promotes instability of the kind that Russia and all of the Eastern European nations are still trying to recover from.

Are Ya Bored? VNES Will Keep You Occupied

Well, if you’re bored, maybe you should read Scripture or something 🙂 But if you’ve done that or read some other stuff already, go ahead and proceed … This site has a ton of original NES games online, using a java applet. Pretty sweet.

If Christ Was Not in Heaven, Would You Want to Go There?

If we perceive heaven as simply that which brings about the greatest satisfaction through perfected creation, we’ve missed the point. Christ Himself is what makes heaven great, not all the gifts. Yes, the gifts should be gloried and reveled in, but is this the final end of what Christ has purchased for us on the cross by His blood? no, rather the best gift of what we’ve been given in the cross is that we get God Himself for all eternity. The blessings that come along with heaven are only meant to serve and increase our desire and love for Christ forever. A quote from John Piper should be deeply pondered and considered, knowing that through faith alone in Christ alone, we have been justified by His blood:

“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation— is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?”

– John Piper, Introduction, God is the Gospel

If you answer Yes to this question, you have totally missed the point of heaven as revealed in God’s Word. And for many of you, I would have to say that if you answered Yes to this question (though I can’t know), you may not not be truly converted, because to be converted is to have Christ as your ultimate treasure and you want to go to heaven because that is where Christ resides. If you could have heaven with all of its perfected majesties; but if Christ is why heaven is great, why would you want to go? There’s nothing there for your enjoyment if you do not have a love and desire for Jesus. Saving faith knows nothing of who God is apart from the merits and work of Christ in His life, death, and resurrection to bring us to Himself. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

All the gifts of the Gospel are to be treasured. Piper is not minimizing this in the least. He is pointing us to the greatest treasure and gift of the Gospel, Christ Himself. In America, where materialism runs rampant, especially, to its demise, within the church, this is a truth that must be proclaimed loud and clear, because I’m afraid many are being deceived into thinking of heaven and being saved as being made much of and being satisfied by things other than God, which amounts to idolatry. As believers, we have been predestined, called, justified, sanctified, glorified, propitiated, rescued from hell, adopted into His Kingdom, will obtain resurrected bodies on the last day, will be guests at the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and so many more gifts. These are just a few of the many gifts of the Gospel. But if we simply love what God has done for us so that we get these gifts (the gifts being the final and greatest satisfaction we aim for) without enjoying the ultimate gift, namely the great Giver Himself, how offensive must that be to His honor and glory? They are only amazing gifts precisely because they are employed in the service of pointing our hearts to the final good, and greatest gift of the Gospel: namely, God Himself, revealed in the face of Christ. There is no satisfaction greater than to have Christ Himself forever. “May those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’” (Ps. 70:4). ‘Not mainly, “Salvation is great,” but “God is great!'” (Piper, Intro, God is the Gospel)

God is the Gospel, in my opinion, is one of Piper’s greatest, most important books and should be read by every believer. Not at all a hard book to read. It refocuses our hearts back on the supreme gift of God in the Gospel: the satisfaction of seeing and savoring the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, knowing and loving Him personally. This is in fact what Christ Himself said in His great High Priestly prayer to the Father before His crucifixion, concerning what eternal life actually is: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). And this knowing of God is not merely knowing facts about Him, but loving Him, being enthralled with His glory and beauty, forever captivated by His love and power and being, demonstrated in the work of the cross. Heaven is where we get to know the one true God and Jesus Christ who was sent so that we could know and love Him for all eternity. There is no greater gift than to have the Creator forever.

Book Review by Sam Storms

The Singular Purpose of the Old and New Testaments

As I’ve been reading through and studying Hebrews (and other books in the New Testament) the past couple of months, something I’ve thought about for quite some time is how much the New Testament (as well as all of scripture) interprets the things that occurred in the Old Testament for us. Many believers go back and look at what occurred in the Old Testament and say that what happened simply applied to Israel and Israel alone, that Israel is a separate people from us believers in Christ. I do not hold this view and believe that all believers in the OT and NT are one people, redeemed through the one work of Christ on the cross. And though many of the things that occurred did apply in a temporal sense, the New Testament speaks of the things that happened as also applying to us, the Gentiles. Here’s what I mean. In 1 Peter 1:10-12 it says

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

In other words, the prophets who prophesied about the coming salvation through Christ were not serving themselves but us who believe in Christ for salvation. There is a singular prupose and unfolding plan of God in history to bring about redemption through faith alone in the work of Christ alone. This is remarkable. In addition to this, the book of Hebrews in particular has statements in it that point to this singular truth. Hebrews 11:24 says

24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

Listen to that, the author of Hebrews says “[Moses] considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt.” The unity of the revelation of redemption throughout Scripture is unmistakable. Believers in the Old Testament were justified not by their works, but by faith in the promise of God to bring about salvation “so that they might rise again to a better life” (Hebrews 11:35). In Hebrews 12 it continues on and says this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Because we have so many witnesses in the OT attesting to this faith in the promise of God to bring about salvation through the work of Christ (there’s the singular purpose I was talking about), let us run with endurance toward God and His glory, the ultimate gift and final end of the Gospel. This glory and blessing in the Gospel, that is, the reconciliation of fallen sinners to the living God, was shown and revealed to those in the OT (who did not obtain it at the time), but it has been realized in us who believe in the merits of Jesus Christ on our behalf. OT believers didn’t necessarily know how everything would come about, but this is the one thing they did know: “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9) and “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (Psalm 25:5). We all have this one singular hope: the reconciliation of our dead, sinful lives through the work of God, realized in the person and work of Jesus Christ, in order that we all may have God for all eternity! What a hope!

Technology Collection Trends of 2006

May take a minute to pull up; it’s a PDF of a declassified document published recently called 2006 Technology Collection Trends published by the Defense Security Service. It speaks about the upswing in certain information collection trends (such as direct contact by foreign contractors and government entities to US government contracted firms, such as Lockheed) to obtain information about US defense weapons systems, aeronautic systems, and information systems. The only reason I thought it was notable was because the major increase in technology information obtainment came from Asian government entities. And the upswing from 2005 to 2006 was apparently fairly large, indicating a probable increase in arms development and research in the region. In one particular instance they cited (where all info concerning the situation remains anonymous), two foreign contractors contacted a US gov contractor to look at repair plans on a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) under production at a classified facility. The US contractor declined, but the two foreign contractors showed up anyway within a week requesting access to the classified facility where the UAV resides. He repeatedly denied them access and just kept them updated at their hotel as to the status of what was going on. So it appears that instead of covertly attempting to obtain information through illegal means (though that is still used of course), foreign entities are increasingly just asking the contractors directly for access to a facility or for specific information that the contractor may not be aware is classified. And it’s working apparently in many instances. I just thought it was fairly interesting thing to flip through since some of this stuff never gets reported, though this did apparently … http://www.washtimes.com/national/20070 … -9819r.htm

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