David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: Church History

Clement on the Necessity of Community for Believers

“The great cannot subsist without the small, nor the small without the great. There is a kind of mixture in all things, and thence arises mutual advantage. Let us take our body for an example. The head is nothing without the feet, and the feet are nothing without the head; yea, the very smallest members of our body are necessary and useful to the whole body. But all work harmoniously together, and are under one common rule for the preservation of the whole body.”

Clement to the Corinithans

The Legacy of Charles Finney

I still have yet to understand why so many leading evangelical pastors (Billy Graham and the late Jerry Falwell to name two) and others in the movement uphold this man as someone who championed the faith once for all delivered to the saints. If there is one person that can be blamed for so many of the current theological and ecclesiological problems we find in the evangelical movement (though there are many causes to be sure), it is Charles Finney. These articles deal with the content of what Finney taught and how it was anything but evangelical, in the historical, Gospel sense of the word.

After reading these, you will see a little bit clearer how much of his influence is still felt in the church today and how much damage it continues to cause. Even much of the pragmatic, mega, seeker movement in the church owes its pragmatic thought process about how to “get people in the door” to the teaching of Finney, which he himself rooted in the error of Pelgius, the fifth century heretic. Very insightful.

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C.S. Lewis: Introduction to On the Incarnation by Athanasius

Excerpted from On the Incarnation by Athanasius on Spurgeon.org

There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about “isms” and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.

This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more rampant than in theology. Wherever you find a little study circle of Christian laity you can be almost certain that they are studying not St. Luke or St. Paul or St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas or Hooker or Butler, but M. Berdyaev or M. Maritain or M. Niebuhr or Miss Sayers or even myself.

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A Discussion on Christianity and Culture (MP3)

This is a very important program that ministers, leaders, counselors, and pastors in the church should take the time to listen to. The White Horse Inn radio program recently did a show entitled The Foolishness of God in which a discussion took place on the relationship of the church to culture. There are a thousand different “approaches” out there. But more and more, it seems many within evangelicalism are bent on the idea that the primary role of the church is to address the various needs of the culture in various temporal ways, instead of primarily ministering the Gospel to its own people. This isn’t just in the emerging church now either, it’s in many average evangelical congregations and fellowships. The question is which approach is Biblical?

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The Seeming Successes of Evangelicalism – John Piper (MP3)

This has to be one of the best introductions to a sermon I’ve heard. At only seven minutes long, John Piper hits the nail right on the head concerning the state of evangelicalism. Very excellent analysis, yet very saddening. The truth is hard to hear sometimes, but we must properly and truthfully identify the problems in order to administer an adequate remedy. This is an audio excerpt from the sermon My Anguish, My Kinsmen Are Accursed, pertaining to Romans 9:1-5.

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Why Study Church History? – R.W. Glenn

(Excerpt taken from the PDF notes of R.W. Glenn’s MP3 audio lecture series on Church History found at www.solidfoodmedia.com in Minnetonka, MN)

A. Warrant for the Study of Church History

1. The Bible does not teach us everything about the outworking of God’s plan of redemption. Although this may sound like a controversial thing to say in a church that believes (rightly) in the sufficiency, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture, it is because of what Scripture teaches that I draw this conclusion cf. Matt 28:18-20; Rev 21:1-4. We learn from church history how God’s plan of redemption has been worked out from the time of the end of the first century until today. “The events of this world’s history set the stage upon which the drama of redemption is enacted.” (1)

2. The sovereignty of God over all of history cf. Isa 46:8-11. History is His story just as much as it is ours. Therefore we have an opportunity through the study of church history to see how God protected and preserved his people to the present day so as to bring about the sure accomplishment of his redemptive purposes in Jesus Christ.

3. The Christian faith is historical in character cf. Luke 2:1-2. Studying church history demonstrates concretely that the Christian faith is historical in character – it deals with real people in real places in real time.

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