Monday, December 31, 2007

WE'RE RICH!!!

Hello readers! Rejoice with us! We ended the wonderful year of 2007 with a wonderful bang! We found out today, and confirmed with Kaiser Permanente today, that Angela is pregnant with our fifth wonderful arrow of our quiver!!!

If it is a girl, she will be named Sofia Cristiana. If it is a boy, he will be named Isaiah Calvin.

We praise You, O Lord, because You grant Your favor to those who are undeserving. O Lord, we do not deserve Your kindness to us, yet You lavish it upon us every day. Thank You for the gift of this precious life. Please guard this child and protect this child. May our baby one day know You personally, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent. Thank You that You confound the wisdom of the "wise" through the mouths of little children. We praise You that You crush Satan's kingdom this way. May You be pleased, O Lord, to grant us even more children after this one. We are unworthy. You have made us rich with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In Jesus' precious Name. Amen.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

WHERE I (CURRENTLY) STAND ON VARIOUS REFORMED DISCUSSIONS

Hello my fellow Reformed readers! This post is for you all. As many of you well know, we Reformed come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. This is just to let you know where I currently stand on different Reformed issues. I would love to know where some of you stand as well.

JOSH BRISBY'S CURRENT CONVICTIONS:
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Eschatology: Postmillennialist

Christian Liberty: Fire me up a cigar and a cold beer and a nice warm Merlot with some gambling chips and a Blackjack table!

Apologetics: Van Tillian Presuppositionalist (kind of in between the Bahnsenian and Frameian stripes)

The Sabbath: Moderate Sabbatarian who believes that we should honor the Lord's Day, but every Christian needs to work out in their conscience issues associated with it

Have the gifts of tongues and prophecy ceased?: Yes (cessationist)

View of the general equity of the moral law of God: Non-theonomist in the stripe of Frame and Poythress (see The Shadow of Christ In the Law of Moses and Frame's articles on the subject, esp. his "The One, the Many, and Theonomy" in Theonomy: A Reformed Critique)

Justification and the Federal Vision: I reject the Federal Vision as heretical. I hold to the imputation of Christ's righteousness, including both His active and passive obedience.

Law and Gospel: I believe Law and Gospel are antithetical when it comes to our justification, but that they are united in our sanctification. Christ causes us to walk in His Law and transforms our hearts to obey it in our sanctification. Our union with Christ flows from our justification.

Counseling: I affirm that nouthetic counseling in the stripe of Jay Adams seems to be the most biblically-oriented manner to touch the soul and deal with the heart of the issues.

Days of Creation: Literal, 24-hour day six-day creationist; I reject Kline's Framework Hypothesis as damaging to the church, and other views as influenced by evolutionary thought

Corporate Worship: I hold to the regulative principle, while not being strict to the point of denial of instruments. It is important to distinguish between elements and circumstances of worship.

Exclusive Psalmody?: No. Hymns and songs that are non-Psalms are appropriate as well.

Redemptive-Historical Preaching?: No, I appreciate the Puritan way of application in sermons

Strict or moderate subscription to the Confession?: Moderate

Prophetic school of thought (partial preterist, idealist, historicist, or futurist?): Idealist

Proper subjects of baptism: Those who profess faith; rejection of infant baptism as unbiblical and unprovable

Nature of the Lord's Table: Calvinist suprasubstantiationist (I recommend Keith Mathison's excellent book Given For You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper)

Infralapsarian or Supralapsarian?: Infra, although I'm not sure if it really matters. Sometimes this seems to me to delve too deep into the mind of God.

Have I left any out??? :0D

Where do you stand, O Reformed readers?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

THE SAD STATE OF THE CHURCH TODAY

We are currently staying at a Hampton Inn in Gallup, NM, about 3 1/2 hours away from my parents' house in Albuquerque. This morning, I have looked all over the yellow pages here, doing research on websites, for a church for us to go to this morning.

I found none.

The only good news is that I found a sister F.I.R.E. Church (Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals) about 41 minutes close to my parents' house. We will consider going there tonight for evening worship. However, it saddens me that there are no good Reformed or Calvinistic churches where we are staying right now.

I sure am glad I'm a postmillennialist. I just wish that God would work a little faster. The state of the church today grieves me greatly.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ON VACATION

We are on vacation right now, driving to see my parents. I am typing this from a hotel in who-knows-where, CA right now, but we are taking it easy, and it is nice. I hope we see some of God's wonders of snow. I am looking forward to this.

Also, this may be the last time we see my parents' house in New Mexico, because they are retiring and moving to TX. I have a lot of memories in their house, so it will be kind of sad. You know all about nostalgia I'm sure.

For my readers, I plan on doing some posts on Why I Am A Reformed Baptist soon, as well as A Critique of Eastern Orthodoxy. Before I do the post on why I'm a Reformed Baptist, I'll probably do several on Why I Am NOT . . . and then several religions/worldviews.

Most of all, I am a Christian because of the sovereign grace of our Triune God.

Have a Merry Christmas everybody, and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 07, 2007

MY DIET: AFTER ONE MONTH

Hello friends! The Lord has been gracious to me and my family! Today, after one month on the diet, I now weigh 236.2!

Almost half-way there! Praises to our sovereign God!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A WORD ON ADVERTISEMENTS

I do NOT endorse or approve of all of the advertisements on my website. I originally signed up for this thinking it would bring in a little extra income. So far it has not. Furthermore, some of the advertisements are for heretical websites and authors.

I would encourage those who are thinking of signing up for Google Ads to not sign up. DON'T SIGN UP. You'll be disappointed, and you may have advertisements of things you do not approve of.

So, to my readers, if you do click on the advertisements, be careful to take it with a grain of salt, and to always have your Bibles open.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

MY NEW SPANISH BLOG!

Hey all,

To all you Spanish speakers, and to all of you who wish to practice your Spanish, my new Spanish blog is now up and running.

Please visit me at http://www.josuebrisby.blogspot.com/ .

Tell your Spanish-speaking friends! The site is similar to The Reformed Oasis in content.

MY DIET: DAY 3

Well, I started my diet last Thursday. On Wednesday at my Positive Choice class I weighed 272. I'm not joking--this morning I weighed myself, on the third day of my diet, and I now weigh 259.2! I'm almost certain that most of what I have already lost is water weight. But it's nice to see it come off.

I will keep my readers posted on the progress. Please pray for me, as this is going to be a long and hard road. But, pray most importantly that I would have a hunger and a thirst for God more and more through this. That is more important than losing weight.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

MY FAVORITE MUSIC

Some of my favorite albums/bands currently:

As I Lay Dying, "An Ocean Between Us".

This album is absolutely amazing Christian metal/hardcore/"scream-o". Back when I was in my first band "The Big Cheeze," their drummer was in a band called Edge of Mortality. I used to get up on stage with them and they let me be the guest singer (more like "screamer") for the Overcome song "Sacrificed." Later, when As I Lay Dying first became a band, and when I was in Flight 180, at a battle of the bands in Point Loma I was asked to be a guest judge. I voted for As I Lay Dying when they played. Guess who won that battle of the bands. Yup. Of course.

The album "An Ocean Between Us" is amazing musically and lyrically. My wife and I are going to see them at Soma on November 30th. I can't wait!

Mae, "The Everglow."

This album is kind of in the emo/rock genre. It is beautiful rock music with piano. Track 2 is especially amazing. When this album first came out, I danced with Gabriel, my son, to track 2, which is an ethereal-sounding piano song. Every time I hear it it is so hard for me to hold back tears. It makes me think of how much I love my son and how much I want what is best for him.

Mae is with Tooth and Nail Records, which is one of the divisions of the record label my band was on a while back. (We were with B.E.C. Recordings.)

Extol, "Synergy."

This band is on Solid State Records, the hardcore/metal division of Tooth and Nail Records. Their musicianship is amazing. Lyrically, they are theologically right on--at least in this album. the ironic thing is that this band is Pentecostal/Arminian. Funny how Arminians really are Calvinists when it comes down to the grind.

Jimmy Eat World, "Clarity."

I saw Jimmy live. You know a band is good when live they sound like their produced album. Well, that's Jimmy for ya. Clarity is probably one of the most beautiful emo-rock albums I have ever heard.
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The above is just a sampling of what I like to listen to. All praise be to the Triune God, the Maker and Creator of music!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

THE MORTIFICATION OF SIN

I have been reading John Owen's The Mortification of Sin lately. It is very quickly becoming one of the best books I have ever read. My top three right now are the Bible, John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, and then Owen's book.

I am almost done with the book. It has cut me to the heart and slain me deeply. I have struggled with assurance of salvation for many years. Now I am convinced that I am either not a believer, or, if I am, that I am a most miserable believer. I highly recommend especially chapters 8 and 9.

My wifey took a quote from Owen and posted it on her blog about how God requires nothing less than universal obedience. When I read this quote in my car, tears came. As I read it to my wife one evening, it was difficult to read without crying. God blessed Owen with so much wisdom. I felt like I have come to one of the best doctors for my soul.

I too would like to place that quote here on my blog for my readers to consider. May our Lord bring us into true spiritual mortification!
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We must hate all sin, as sin, and not just that which troubles us. Love for Christ, because He went to the cross, and hate for sin that sent Him there, is the solid foundation for true spiritual mortification. To seek mortification only because a sin troubles us proceeds from self-love. Why do you with all diligence and earnestness seek to mortify this sin? Because it troubles you and takes away your peace, and fills your heart with sorrow, trouble, and fear, and because you do not have rest through it? Yes, but, friend, you have neglected prayer and reading! You have been vain and loose in your conversation with other things. These are just as sinful as the one that troubles you. Jesus Christ bled for them also. Why do you not set yourself against them? If you hate sin as sin, and every evil way, you would be watchful against everything that grieves and disquiets the Spirit of God. You would not be concerned only about the sin that upsets your own soul! It is evident that you fight against this sin merely because it troubles you. If it did not bother your conscience you would let it alone. If it did not bother you, you would not bother it. Do you think God will help you in such a hypocritical effort? Do you think that the Holy Spirit will help in the treachery and falsehood of your own spirit? Do you think He will free you from this so you are free to go and commit another sin which grieves Him?

‘No’, says God, ‘if I free him from this lust, I will not hear from him anymore, and he will be content in his failure.’ We must not be concerned only with that which troubles us, but with all that troubles God. God’s work is to have full victory, and universal obedience, not just the victory over the sins that trouble our soul.

‘Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God’ (2 Cor. 7:1). If we will do anything, we must do everything. So, then, our need is not only an intense opposition to this or that particular lust, but a universal humble frame and temper of heart that watches over every evil, and seeks the performance of every duty that is pleasing to God.
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John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, 50-51 (Banner of Truth)

Friday, October 05, 2007

ZWINGLI: A CALVINIST ON THE LORD'S SUPPER?

I was surprised to read the following quotes from someone quite unexpected:

"In the Lord's Supper the natural and essential body of Christ in which he suffered and is now seated in heaven at the right hand of God is not eaten naturally and literally but only spiritually."

"So then, when you come to the Lord's Supper to feed spiritually upon Christ, and when you thank the Lord for his great favour, for the redemption whereby you are delivered from despair, and for the pledge whereby you are assured of eternal salvation, when you join with your brethren in partaking of the bread and wine which are the tokens of the body of Christ, then in the true sense of the word you eat him sacramentally. You do inwardly that which you represent outwardly, your soul being strengthened by the faith which you attest in the tokens."

Yup, those quotes came from, you guessed it: Ulrich Zwingli!

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(The quotes are from his Exposition of the Faith sent to King Francis of France. Thanks to Tom Nettles for the quotes.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A PRAYER

O Lord, help me to hate that which is ugly and to love that which is beautiful. Amen.

Monday, October 01, 2007

MY UPCOMING DIET

Well, next month sometime I will be officially starting a weight-loss program with Kaiser Permanente called Positive Choice. I would start it now, but I have to complete a physical and a body assessment, and one class. So I'm sure that next month sometime, Lord willing, I will be starting it.

My sister-in-law did the program and she lost a lot of weight. She lost it quickly too. The only thing is, of course, keeping the weight off after you lose it. I have a personal trainer who I work with three times a week, and I try to do cardio every other day except for the Lord's Day. So, I anticipate keeping the weight off.

The diet consists of liquid formulas, and it's only like 425 calories a day. They are formulated to give your body all the nutrition it needs so you can lose the weight fast, as well as in a healthy way. You are monitored by a personal physician and also have to keep going to the lab every week.

The only downside is that I have to go to a weekly "support group" where I have to meet with a psychologist. Yuck! But one of my elders told me not to let that stop me, so away I go.

Please pray for me! This will be 5 months of only these liquid formulas (and some kind of soup broth as well). I have 60 lbs. to lose, and I wouldn't mind losing even more.

I do plan on having my final fling with food the nights before I start. :0D

Anyways, I am looking forward to losing all that weight in 5 months that it took me ten years to put on.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

GOD IS FAITHFUL

Disclaimer: This post is meant not as offense to those who do not embrace Calvinism, but it does intend to attack Arminianism as a system of thought.
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I hate Arminianism. Let me tell you why.

Arminianism portrays God as this all-loving, sentimental, grandfather in the sky type of god who loves everyone equally, but is devoted to no one. He has no special love for his bride, the church. After all, god loves all equally and alike, and jesus died for everybody equally and alike, and, although all of a sudden, god intervenes to keep those who truly belong to him (for some Arminians), they cooperated with the holy spirit in regeneration, since faith precedes regeneration.
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I love Calvinism. Let me tell you why.

Calvinism portrays God as the Ephesians 5 Husband, Who is devoted to His Bride, the Church. Although He has a general love for all mankind, He has a special, sovereign, saving love for His elect, the Church. He is devoted to Her entirely, and to no one else, even as a husband is to be devoted to his wife alone, and to no other woman. In fact, God is so devoted to His Bride, the elect, that He sees to it that they not only come to faith, but that they are sanctified, and that they persevere, and He feeds us with His Word and cleans us in baptism and feeds us again in His body and blood in the Holy Supper. Jesus gave Himself for His Bride alone, because He is the Faithful Husband. His Name is Faithful and True. He is faithful even when we are faithless, because He cannot disown Himself.

This is the kind of God who shows me what it is to be a faithful husband. I love my wife. In my eyes, she can do nothing wrong. But when we have an argument, I try to remember that God is faithful to me even when I am not all that enjoyable to be around. God teaches me to love my wife, even in the midst of an argument.

This is because the God of the Bible is the God that the systematic theology known as Calvinism, highlighted in the Reformed faith, portrays biblically and beautifully.

If today you are struggling with sin, if today you are unfaithful to God, if today you are not persevering as you should, know this:

God is Faithful, and He is committed to you for His glory. Even when you don't feel it, even when you've had a day full of sin, know this:

God will sanctify you and preserve you.

When we are faithless, He is faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.

Friday, August 31, 2007

INFANT BAPTISM: CASE DISMISSED

Well, we are officially dropping our infant baptism studies. This will be my last post on the matter (hopefully for the rest of my life).

I do not pretend to have this all worked out. Let me say that, over the years, I was dogmatic for some time. In fact, you can see some of it in the earlier archives of this website. But I am hardly dogmatic about anything anymore, except for the doctrines of sovereign grace and the gospel.

So, I will leave this last post on the subject for all my paedo and credo brothers and sisters to consider, and then feel free to comment. If there are any comments that to me warrant a consideration and response, I'll probably respond in the comment thread. But I have heard countless arguments on both sides, many many times. To me, both sides seem to have much to say. So, without pretending that I have this all worked out, perhaps I can sum up why I remain a credo, although I am sure it is by default.

The best thing to do I think would be to list what I think to be bad arguments on both sides, and good arguments on both sides. I will include brief commentary as to why I think they are bad or good arguments.

BAD ARGUMENTS ON THE CREDO SIDE:

CREDO BAD ARGUMENT: Baptism is for believers only because of the nature of the New Covenant. It is made with the elect only, as Jer. 31:31-34 says.

RESPONSE: I think that Paul Manata has done a phenomenal job of showing how this text has nothing to do with the subjects of baptism. Elsewhere in Jeremiah, there are several passages which mention that in the New Testament era, God will be the God of our children. Furthermore, it still seems that God has a special view of our children today, since Mary herself sings that God's faithfulness is unto a thousand generations.

CREDO BAD ARGUMENT: Only the elect are in the New Covenant now, in the current administration of the covenant of grace.

RESPONSE: When we examine the way the covenant of grace is applied today, this just doesn't hold water (pardon the pun). Romans 11 speaks of being cut off. What were these unbelievers in the olive tree cut off from? 1 Corinthians 5 speaks of excommunication. Ex= "out of", and "commune" = assembly. They had to be "in" in some way, didn't they? Hebrews 10:30 speaks of the Lord judging "His people." The context is eternal judgment. In John 15 our Lord speaks of every branch "in Him" being cut off. In fact, the language of being "cut off" is most definitely covenantal language. It seems to me that the threatenings make no sense if they are not to be understood covenantally.

CREDO BAD ARGUMENT: But you see, these people were only cut off from the church, and not the covenant. The church and the covenant are different.

RESPONSE: This kind of "out" makes the Reformed Baptist view unfalsifiable. Anytime there is a text against the credo view, they have an out--it's only the church, not the covenant. Or when children are mentioned, they are spiritualized. Besides, isn't the local church the "covenant" people of God? Are we going to really say that ALL the members of the local church are not "in covenant" with God? The very threat of excommunication is covenantal. I see no way of getting around this. Every church that practices church discipline, whether paedo or credo, is practically showing that the covenant still has attending curses that come along with it for breaking it.

CREDO BAD ARGUMENT: Every example we have of baptism is of people professing first, then becoming baptized.

RESPONSE: This is debatable. The "household" passages are at least inconclusive. But where do we see a child of the age of three, or four, or five professing faith and being baptized? Yet Baptists have no problem doing that because of the inference that it doesn't matter what age, as long as they profess. There is no case of women partaking of the Lord's Table anywhere in Scripture, but Baptists (and paedos) believe they can because of *inference*. The fact is, both sides use inference.

There are others as well, I believe. But this post is already getting long, and I wish to examine both sides.

BAD ARGUMENTS ON THE PAEDO SIDE:

PAEDO BAD ARGUMENT: Circumcision and baptism both share the same meaning. So, we can assume that baptism replaces circumcision in the New Covenant administration of the covenant of grace, and that therefore the subjects of baptism are the same as the subjects of circumcision.

RESPONSE: First of all, this makes an unwarranted leap. Indeed, circumcision and baptism do not share *only* the same meaning. Baptism signifies union with Christ. In fact, both sacraments do. No matter how much a paedo tries to tell us that circumcision signified union with Christ, that is a huge burden on them to prove so. How do they know that? I think many times the paedo makes the mistake of taking the full meaning of the New Testament and mixing it into the shadowy, not-yet-revealed analogy of the Old Testament. There seems to be an error in biblical theology here. More than that, even if we assume that paedobaptism is true, even our paedo brothers must admit that the subjects are not the same. Needless to say, only males were circumcised in the OT (for obvious reasons). But now infants of both sexes receive baptism in their system, so, at least on the surface, circumcision and baptism do not correspond as closely as they mention.

PAEDO BAD ARGUMENT: Romans 4:11 says that circumcision was the sign of faith, yet it was still applied to infants.

RESPONSE: Romasn 4:11 is speaking of Abraham as the father of our faith--the faith he had while uncircumcised. If anything, this is actually a case for the credo. The apostle is speaking of Abraham's faith, and is not making a generalization for the meaning of circumcision.

PAEDO BAD ARGUMENT: 1 Corinthians 7:14 says the children are "holy" and not "unclean." It doesn't mention that the unbelieving spouse is "unclean."

RESPONSE: Just because it doesn't specifically mention that the unbelieving spouse is "unclean" does not mean that he or she is or is not unclean. But the same root word (hagiedzetai--"sanctified") is used of the unbelieving spouse as is used for the children (hagioi--"clean, sanctified, holy"). In other words, in this passage, it is clear that whatever "holiness" the children have, the unbelieving has as well.

PAEDO BAD ARGUMENT: That passage says that because it is speaking of adults . . .

RESPONSE: Here the paedo has an "out" as well. When Peter calls baptism the "pledge of a good conscience toward God," is he giving baptism a meaning for adults that it doesn't have for baptized infants? It seems to me that they are driven to change the meaning of baptism for infants, and make it mean something different for adults.

PAEDO BAD ARGUMENT: That's because circumcision and baptism mean the same thing.

RESPONSE: They do not. As mentioned above, the paedo has a heavy burden of proof to demonstrate that circumcision signified union with Christ. Again, how would they even begin to demonstrate this?
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On the good side of things, I think that we need to listen to our paedo brothers when they speak about God's view of our children. I also think that the credo side has some very excellent and helpful things to say when they speak about the "newness" of the New Covenant. I think you could still remain a paedo or a credo and incorporate those good things into your sytem.

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Well, that's basically it. I apologize to any if I have misunderstood either side or not addressed some things. It seems safer to me to drop this. Both sides agree that those who profess faith should be baptized, so it seems to me that the safer route to take would be to remain a credo by default.

I hope that the above is helpful to the Body of Christ as we continue to be led by our Lord into the unity of the faith.

Friday, August 17, 2007

PIPER'S NEW BOOK: OCTOBER 19, 2007

I just went to http://www.amazon.com/ and pre-ordered John Piper's new book coming out on October 19th, 2007. I am looking forward to it.

It is called The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright. I encourage my readers to buy and read this book when it comes out. I too have been very concerned with the teachings of N.T. Wright and his redefinition of the doctrine of justification.

Piper's book will no doubt be a great help to the Body of Christ.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

UPDATE

Thank you to all who have been praying for us and concerned with our theological wrestling matches lately. Our study on baptism has led us to an even deeper study, going as deep as the New Covenant itself.

Below is a copy of an e-mail I sent to a brother recently which helps explain what is going on right now. I would appreciate interaction with this in the comments section, or over the phone or in person.
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______________, that is basically how we were wrestling with it. Over the years I have come from being so dogmatically against it (even critiquing it on Gene Cook's radio show three years ago), to admitting that I don't have much left to refute it.

However, recently this study has led me even into a deeper study of the New Covenant itself. I am beginning to doubt even traditional covenant theology. I have thought that, perhaps paedobaptism is kind of like a "magic trick," in that, everything looks good on the surface, and it appears to have a strong case, but when the deeper questions are probed, the case does not appear as strong. Some of the questions include the following:

*Since female infants obviously did not receive the sign of the covenant in the OT, why do we assume that female infants should receive baptism?

*Baptism in the NT seems to be actually about union with Christ (Romans 6, 1 Co 12, Gal 3),
rather than about being brought into a covenant which has both blessings and curses. Furthermore, it speaks of those having received it as having "died unto sin," and having received the Spirit, and having been clothed with Christ. For that reason, there seems to be less of a connection between baptism and circumcision.

*Even if we do take the household principle, could it not be argued that this was common thinking because that was the way the culture of the day thought? Indeed, non-Jewish cultures, as Kline points out, had that principle as well, so it seems to have been merely a cultural thing. Perhaps this is why the Philippian jailer is told that he and his household will be saved, which would explain why we don't speak that way today. In fact, Jim was mentioning to me that in Leonard Verduin's book, he argues that this was tied to a view of the unity of the state and religion. America is the first country in all of history to finally separate church and state.

*How far do we go with the "unity of the covenant of grace" idea? How was the Noahic covenant part of the administration of it? Are we saying then that animals can be in the covenant of grace, since the Noahic covenant was made with all of creation?

*What about the covenant of works? It seems that Adam was created in perfect harmony with God. How do we know that if he would have obeyed, that he would have been "confirmed" in righteousness? How do we know, in fact, that it was even a probationary period to begin with? It seems that God would have just left the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there.

It seems to me that the glory and power of the New Covenant is much grander than traditional covenantal theology makes it out to be, with it flat-line carryover between the Old and New Covenants. This study has led me even deeper into a study of the New Covenant itself, and not just baptism.

Anyways, that's where I am right now. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts so we can sharpen one another as we both continue our pilgrimage here.

In Christ,
Josh Brisby

Saturday, June 30, 2007

STILL THINKING ON THE BAPTISM ISSUE . . .

Thank you to all of you brothers and sisters who have been praying for us on the issue of the proper subjects of baptism. I just wanted to give you all an update.

We are continuing to take this slowly, but through talking with our elders and thinking and discussing it out more, we still have our doubts about infant baptism. It seems to me that both sides have excellent points to make, and both sides have arguments, and arguments that respond to arguments, and arguments that respond to arguments' arguments, ad infinitum.

Having said that, we are considering dropping the issue. I want to let it sit for a while, but I know that, when a case comes up in a court of law, when true and reasonable doubt is present, the case is dismissed.

Currently, I have true and reasonable doubt about the issue of infant baptism. I have dialogued with paedobaptist friends where they tried to answer these issues. On the surface, the answers seemed to be somewhat satisfactory, but after probing it a bit further, I am still unsure.

When this chapter in our life comes to a close (probably in a couple of months, I hope), I will do a final post on this issue.

Please continue to pray for us. I know that there have been godly men on both sides of this issue in the history of the Church. Our only wish, as I know both credos and paedos wish as well, is to obey God's Word in this area of our life and our childrens' lives.

I also wish to open up my blog for any comments from credo brothers or paedo brothers for fruitful discussion if you wish.

May our Lord continue to guide His Church into all truth.

Monday, June 18, 2007

PLEASE PRAY FOR US

To My Blog Readers:

Please pray for us. I am copying the text of two e-mails I sent out to the elders of our church. I can't believe this is happening. This is a difficult time for us.
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To Our Spiritual Fathers, the Elders . . . ,

This is an e-mail to ask for help. This is Josh and Angela Brisby, and we wanted to let you know that, over the past couple of years, through baby steps, and through dialogue/debate, we have become more and more convinced of infant baptism. This is hard for me to believe that this is happening, especially because I was Presbyterian for two years before I became Reformed Baptist. However, I am unsure whether I fully understood the paedobaptist position then, nor did I give it a fair chance to respond when I was becoming Baptist.

Yet, this time we have no desire whatsoever to become paedobaptists. We love [this church] , and the last thing we would want to do is to have to change churches. We are asking you to please convince us from Scripture, with reason subservient, that the infant baptism position is incorrect, and to please show us that the Baptist position is correct. We are asking you to rescue us. We love this church, and we want to stay.

Please pray for us as well. This is a very emotional time for us, but even more so for me as the husband and leader. I wept over this yesterday.

In Christ,
Josh and Angela Brisby
________________________________

Brother ______,

To tell you the truth, I think that most paedobaptist literature is not very good. I had recognized some aspects of what I believed in articles by Richard Pratt, and I am currently reading The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism (edited by Gregg Strawbridge). I also read the collection of essays Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant In Christ, but was not persuaded by most of it (many of the writers wrote from a New Covenant Theology perspective).

Over the years, it has happened as the following:

Shortly after I became Reformed Baptist, I saw problems with the traditional Reformed Baptist view, namely, that only the elect are in the New Covenant in this administration of the covenant of grace. I saw this as problematic from texts such as John 15, Romans 11, 1 Corinthians 5, and the book of Hebrews (particularly Hebrews 10:30). I agree that the covenant of grace, eternally speaking, has always been with the elect only, but in its administration temporally, it has always included both elect and non-elect.

Because of this, I reasoned that I could still stay a Baptist and believe that the covenant had two circles to it: the internal and the external. The internal is those who truly possess saving faith, and the external is all those in the outward administration, that is, those who belong to the visible church. Indeed, that is the way I was for quite a while.

But as years passed, I read an article by Gregg Strawbridge which demonstrated Scripturally that children were in the covenant. Ironically (and thankfully), I am not convinced of paedocommunion (we can discuss later as well why I do not see this as inconsistent), but the article was in The Case for Covenant Communion. I found that if one does a search on the word "children" and ponders God's promises, they are so powerful that indeed, it seems to me that to cut the children out of the covenant would be drastic. But in the New Testament texts, we still see promises made to the children (Acts 2:38ff), and the children are called "holy" as opposed to "unclean." (I am also aware of how Baptists respond to this, and we can discuss why I am not persuaded by their response as well.) Furthermore, when Jesus says that "brephoi" (infants) belong to the kingdom, and then blesses them, that it something that seemed to tug at me. I learned through dialogue with _______ that "blessing" was always looked at in a covenantal context in Holy Scripture. Our Lord blessed them.

I also realized that indeed, both the paedo and the credo position use inference. For example, the Baptist cannot find an example in Scripture of children believing and then being baptized. The only examples of professors who are baptized in Scripture are adults. There are some Baptists who wait until age 18 to baptize (Spurgeon, Dever), but they are few and far between. So Baptists reason that, since it seems that in every case of baptism in the NT, it seems, there was repentance and faith first, and then baptism followed, they therefore conclude that if children repent and believe, they are admitted to the waters of baptism. They conclude this by good and necessary inference, as it were.

But the paedo also concludes by good and necessary inference that children were in the covenant in the OT, and that God nowhere put them out. Circumcision was a sign of entrance into the covenant, and baptism is the sign of entrance into the New Covenant. Therefore, since they see children in the covenant, they conclude, by inference, that children or infants should be baptized.

Both sides agree that the household baptisms are inconclusive, but it seems to me that the "you and your household" principle goes back to the Abrahamic Covenant. Yet this is still spoken to Gentiles (such as the Philippian jailer in Acts 16). In other words, when was the last time that we all have evangelized someone and said to him, knowing he was a family man, that the promise was to him and to his children? Or that if he believes, he and his household will be saved? I confess that I too was uncomfortable with this language, but I sort of brushed it off and put it in the back of my mind.

Finally, I reasoned that, perhaps I could say that infants of believers were members of the church, yet I did not have to baptize them. But I learned as well that both sides agree that baptism is a sign of entrance into the church. I concluded that it would be unwise of me to deny it if I thought that my children were members of the church.

One imporant thing, as we dialogue, I think, is to carefully define our terms. I think especially the term "church" and "covenant" need to be carefully defined, because I think that many times, Baptists unknowingly may equivocate and switch on the visible/invisible church, and on the external/internal covenant (although the traditional Reformed Baptist view sees the New Covenant as purely internal currently).

There is much more, of course, that could be discussed, but perhaps this will get us started. I would love to discuss in whatever way you think is most convenient and profitable, whether over the phone, by e-mail, or in person, or all of the above.

We love you as our spiritual fathers. As my wise and amazing wife told me, if this is not true, then we need to fight to stay Baptists. If this is true, then we need to fight to believe it and to have our hearts follow. Right now my head is there, but my heart does not want to go. Please help us.

Yours In Christ,
Josh Brisby for the Brisbys

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A BRIEF CRITIQUE OF NEW COVENANT THEOLOGY

A while ago I had mentioned that I was doing a study on New Covenant Theology. The purpose of this blog entry is to discuss elements of New Covenant Theology I appreciate, while critiquing the elements I disagree with. I hope to be biblical in this brief discussion.

APPRECIATION OF NCT

New Covenant Theology is a way of interpreting Holy Scripture which places more focus on the discontinuity between the testaments. It sees all of the Old Testament Law as having passed away, even in its moral aspects. As such, New Covenant theologians see the Ten Commandments as being only for Israel, and not for the nations or the New Testament Church. Instead, they see the Sermon on the Mount given by our Lord Jesus as the normative New Testament ethic.

Surprisingly enough, I think that there are elements of this idea that I can agree with. It seems clear to me that from 2 Corinthians 3 that indeed, all of the Law has passed away. But what do we mean by this? I think that is simply to say that, all of the Law has been transformed and written on the hearts of God's elect in Christ, like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel do the same analogy in their book New Covenant Theology. I appreciate this aspect.

However, what is quite unfortunate is the way I think NCT treats the ethic of Scripture because of this. I think it comes to unfortunate hermeneutical difficulties, and confusion. It is to here which I now turn.

CRITIQUE OF NCT AND CONCERNS

The way Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel in their book flesh out the differences between the testaments is disturbing. Christ is pitted against Moses to the point of contradiction between the two, with no other claim other than that Christ is "higher than" Moses. Indeed, Christ is higher than Moses. But not to the point of contradiction! In fact, even John Macarthur, the dispensationalist, argues that in Matthew 5-7, Christ is not giving us different laws, but is instead correcting the distortions of the Pharisees.

This is the way that John Reisinger views the Sermon on the Mount as well in his Abraham's Four Seeds. It is problematic at best to see Jesus simply dismiss the OT Law. Our Lord does not dismiss the Law (Mt 5:17ff), but rather fulfills it in such a way that brings its fullest intent to bear upon us as Christians.

Indeed, Greg Welty has written numerous articles critiquing this problem in NCT. It seems that NCT does not take a systematic approach to the Scriptures. For example, the law against lust was indeed even *in the Ten Commandments themselves!* "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife." The Proverbs also bear numerous passages dealing with the avoidance of lust.

Wells and Zaspel argue that it was OK to hate your neighbor in the OT, but is not OK in the NT. I refer the reader here to Welty's excellent articles, which also mentioned Scriptures that mention loving the pagan, even in the OT.

When all is said and done, what scares me about NCT is that it seems to be content with saying that the NT even contradicts the OT on certain ethical principles, because Christ is "higher than" than the OT.

WHAT ABOUT THE SABBATH?

NCT believes that the Sabbath has been fulfilled in Christ, and I think I would agree with this. Wells and Zaspel discuss the practical implications of this, and look deeply into Romans 14 and other texts. Again, I would agree, but why can't we say that, for example, the Sabbath has passed away, but the Lord's Day is now its replacement? How far do we take this? Can we meet as the local church body on any day of the week that we want, and disregard Sunday? Is our only obligation to meet? Can we treat the Lord's Day like any other day, merely going to church, but then going out to a movie, or working, or discussing the cares of the week and financial issues?

Indeed, the Lord's Day has been given as a gift to believers. I plan on posting on this in the near future.

NCT'S CRITIQUE OF THE "COVENANT OF GRACE" CONCEPT

NCT also critiques covenant theology's idea of the unity of the covenant of grace by saying that we should instead speaks of the "gospel of grace" or the "purpose of grace." The problem it has is that we should not look at the Scriptures in this way because it imposes a system upon them which is not there, and which can lead to a host of problems.

However, as covenant theologians, when we speak of the unity of the covenant of grace, we ARE speaking of God's purpose of grace, expressed by means of the various covenants administered throughout Scripture. Indeed, most biblical scholars today (even non-covenantal theologians) admit that the concept of covenant is at the core of Scripture. (I'm sure many NCTers would also say the same.) Not everything has been fulfilled yet, even in the Abrahamic Covenant. (Many NCTers would no doubt agree here as well.)

DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT HAVE "LOGICAL PRIORITY"?

Related to this idea, should we give the New Testament "logical priority" over the Old? I believe that that depends on many things exegetically. For example, I don't think that we can accurately understand the Book of Revelation without giving the OLD Testament a sort of "logical priority." And we cannot understand many of the types and shadows of the OT without giving the NT the logical priority.

In other words, it is not that exegesis is over systematic theology. It is that exegesis, biblical theology, and systematic theology are all on the same plane. As one of my friends pointed out to me in a recent discussion, you can't do exegesis without systematic theology, and you can't do systematic theology without exegesis. No doubt, many good exegetes agree about this.

ARE ONLY THE ELECT IN THE NEW COVENANT?

I am going to leave the reader with this last point, but you may recognize that this is also a problem with traditional Reformed Baptist thought. Both Reformed Baptists and New Covenant Baptists will say that only the elect are in the New Covenant. But this is certainly problematic for now, for numerous reasons, Scriptural and practical. In an upcoming post, I will be discussing this.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, it is clear that I did not intend for this post to go into deep detail, nor did I intend it to be a major paper. (Indeed, as a husband and father of four, with a bedridden wife currently, I do not have the time.) However, I wanted to give my readers something to chew on.

It is for those reasons above that I cannot in good conscience embrace New Covenant Theology.

____________________________
ADDENDUM: STEVE LEHRER'S VIEWS

Steve Lehrer is a New Covenant theologian who has recently written a book called New Covenant Theology: Questions Answered. My critique of his book could well be summed up above as well as I critiqued Wells, Zaspel, and Reisinger. However, there is more.

Lehrer is kind of an aberrancy from mainstream NCT in that he (1) denies the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, and (2) holds to some sensationalistic ethics which many NCTers would outright reject.

As far as his denial of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ to the believer, I would refer my readers to past blog entries (especially toward the beginning archives of this site).

But one example of an ethic which Lehrer holds to is that, if it is not repeated in the NT, then it must be permissible. Lehrer believes that, were it not the law of our land, incest would be permissible, because it is not repeated in the NT.

His thing is to ask us why we believe that incest is not permitted. As a covenant theologian, I have my answers. Perhaps Lehrer is more of a consistent NCTer. But if this is where NCT leads logically, then what do we make of this?

LEHRER'S INCONSISTENCIES

Lehrer argues that bestiality would not be permissible, because it would be "committing adultery," and that law is repeated in the NT. But how far do we take this? Would it be OK for someone to marry an eight-year old girl? After all, that is not even discussed in either the OT or the NT!

Furthermore, why would bestiality be adulterous? Lehrer attempts to explain why, but he forgets that adultery as such is defined as "adult"ery," between two "consenting adults."

I am very concerned about Lehrer's views, and I do hope that he might reconsider some of the dangers of his ethical and hermeneutical positions.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

THE MAJESTY OF THE HOLY TRINITY, part 2

A Defense of the Doctrine of the Eternal Sonship of Christ

by Samual E. Waldron

One place at which the historic doctrine of the Trinity is in danger from rationalism in our day is in a widespread doubt among evangelical teachers as to the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son and the eternal procession of the Spirit. This doubt is probably due to the seeming contradiction of asserting that the Son is self-existent God and yet eternally generated. The Baptist Confession, in line with both the Westminster Confession and the Savoy Declaration and all the historic creeds of the church, warns us against indulging such doubts upon this subject.

It is often thought that the doctrine of eternal generation involves Subordinationism. Three kinds of subordination must be distinguished.

There is subordination in the modes of operation. This has reference to the subordination of the God-man to the Father in the economy of redemption. This may be called economic subordination.

Secondly, there is subordination in the modes of subsistence. This has reference to an order and relationship of derivation among the persons (or hypostases) of the Trinity itself. The Son is begotten of the Father. The Spirit proceeds from both. This may be called hypostatic subordination.

Thirdly, there is subordination in essence. This has reference to the idea that the deity of the Son and Spirit is a qualified form of the deity of the Father. This may be called essential subordination. It is this which has been historically and properly known as Subordinationism.

The historic doctrine of the church and its creeds is that as to their essence the Son and Spirit are equal in power and glory to the Father, but as to their persons they are eternally generated and eternally proceed from the Father. Thus, as to their essence, they are self-existent, while as to their persons, they are eternally derived from the Father. As the historic doctrines of the church, these two doctrines are not rightly called Subordinationism. That term is properly reserved for the teaching that the Son and the Spirit are as to their essence less God than the Father and essentially less transcendent. Hypostatic subordination and economic subordination are not, therefore, Subordinationism. The biblical evidence in favour of the eternal generation of the Son may be summarized as follows.

The economy of redemption is that of creation (John 1: 1 3; Heb 1:2; 1 Cor. 8:6). Surely it is strange that both in the economy of creation and the economy of redemption the same order is maintained, if this economic subordinationdoes not reflect a certain hypostatic subordination in the Trinity itself?

The Bible teaches explicitly that the Son is begotten, or, at least, derived (John 1: 14, 18). The translation of the key word is, however, disputed. Some translate it in the traditional way, 'only begotten', while others prefer the translation I unique'. To some extent this problem of translation is related to a disputed etymology. Some derive the word from the verb which means 'to beget' and others from the verb which means 'to become'. Either possible etymology contains the idea of (eternal) derivation.

Proverbs 8:22-31 also contains explicit teaching to this effect, if applied to the Son of God. The New Testament seems to make the application itself (Col. 2:3; 1 Cor. 1:24, 30; Luke 11:49). Note also Micah 5:2.

It has sometimes been argued that the designation 'Son' is never used of the pre-incarnate Christ. Allowing this interpretation of these terms for the sake of argument, it does not explain the use of the term 'Father.' This term is clearly applied to the first person of the Trinity describing his relationship to the second before the incarnation (John 10: 36; 16:28; 1 John 4:14). It is impossible to disentangle this term from the idea of One who is the cause, source, or begetter. The Father is the Father precisely to the Son (John 5:18; Col. 1:3; Eph. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6).

The argument that the term 'Son' is never used of the preincarnate Christ is not convincing (John 3:16; Gal. 4:4; 1 John 4:14).

The argument that the term 'Son' means nothing but equality simply does not carry conviction. That it does note equality we do not, of course, deny. However, to say that it denotes only this appears to fly in the faceof everything we know not only about the word 'father' but also the word 'son'.

Further evidence for the doctrine of eternal generation is gained from what we may call the doctrine of eternal utterance. The other clear designation of the pre-incarnate Son is the Word. Surely this designation intimates a relationship of subordination between the person designated God and the person designated the Word in John 1: 1. As to their essence both are God, unqualified deity. 'The Word was God.' As to their persons, however, one is called 'the God' and the other is called 'the Word' of God.

Without eternal generation and eternal procession and the doctrine of hypostatic subordination it is impossible to distinguish the different persons of the Trinity. There are no revealed personal relations or properties. Even terminology like the First, Second, or Third Person of the Trinity becomes illegitimate. We are left with three colourless, unvarying, indistinguishable persons in the Trinity. This result smells of the barrenness of human philosophy, not the richness of biblical revelation.

Finally, the suppression of a real eternal fatherhood and a real eternal sonship lessens the glory of redemptive love. Is not the glory of the Father giving his Son for our redemption lessened if we limit the idea of sonship in this sentence to mere equality? The result is that one neutered divine person gives another colourless divine person. On this idea, where is the glory of the Father's sacrifice? Where is the glory of the Son's filial obedience? The tendency to doubt eternal generation and eternal procession diminishes the glory of the gospel.

(This work was taken from pages 56-59 of 'A Modern exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith,' by Samuel E. Waldron – second edition)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

THE PRACTICALITY OF THE REFORMED FAITH

I am once again glad to be a Calvinist.

As I type this, I have had quite an emotional roller-coaster ride today. Right now, my wife is staying overnight at the hospital. Today, she had the worst headache of all time in her life, and hasn't been able to keep any food down.

One doctor said it was "sinusitis" (first time I've heard of that). But she just called me and told me that her Kaiser doctor came to the hospital, and said her symptoms don't seem to be of "sinusitis," so he ordered an MRI.

Tonight, or early in the morning, my wife is going to have an MRI to determine what is going on. And I'm not going to be there, because I am home with the kids.

I am typically a worrier. I know our Lord tells us not to worry, because it doesn't add a single hour to our lives, or a single cubit to our height.

But I love my wife so much.

Or not enough.

I know I don't love God and Christ enough.

Lord, once again, I dare come before You, and beg You to have mercy on me, the unworthy sinner of sinners. I continue to take Your blessings for granted, and I take my salvation for granted. O Lord, forgive me again and again! Please have mercy on my wife this evening, the precious bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I pray that You would be with her, even now. Please comfort her. Please grant her peace. Please grant me peace. Grant me peace to trust in You and Your wise and sovereign care. I know that everything happens, O Lord, because You have ordained it so. Help us to bow the knee to Your sovereign will. In Jesus' precious Name. Amen.

Friday, June 08, 2007

JUNE 8TH: OUR ANNIVERSARY!!!

Today my wifey and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. We sipped Martinelli's and toasted and watched our full wedding video. It was so wonderful.

The Lord has been so good to us during our five years. I have the most beautiful wife anyone could ever imagine, and the most gracious and selfless wife as well.

The Lord has blessed us with four precious children as well. May He be pleased to grant us even more. May our Lord be pleased to grant us with many more years of a happy marriage.

Most of all, may our Lord be pleased to continue to use our marriage for His purposes, and for His glory.

Lord, let our family honor You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

THE MAJESTY OF THE HOLY TRINITY, part 1

Praise to the God Who is Three Persons!

I marvel over how mysterious the Trinity is. Have you ever studied the difference between the ontological Trinity and the economical Trinity? I refer you to Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology for this.

The ontological Trinity is mysteriously beautiful. We speak of God being "one in essence, three in Person." This is true as far as it goes, but many misunderstand this and think of God as an abstract essence, wherein three Persons fill that essence. But this is not the way the Bible speaks of God.

Van Til was right when he said that God was "Absolute Person." Although, that too was a bit confusing, because God is Three Persons, not one person.

The way the Church has always understood this is that the Father is the eternal Source of the Trinity, and the Son was eternally begotten of the Father (filiation), and the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father, through the Son (spiration). Historically, it was debated whether we should say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father AND the Son, because the concern was that the Father be considered the eternal Source, and some felt that to say "AND the Son" (filioque) compromised this. But the other side wanted to respond to the Arian heretics by proving that Jesus was eternal God as well, which was their concern.

I believe there is nothing wrong in saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father AND the Son as long as it is properly understood that we mean "through" the Son. Indeed, the Father is the eternal source, or fountainhead, of the Trinity, and the Son is eternally generated, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and (through) the Son.

SOME NAYSAYERS

There have been some recent naysayers, particularly coming from evangelicalism. Their concern is that they think that it is a contradiction to say "eternal generation." They argue that the Son became the Son only at the Incarnation, but before then, He was only the Word. But this is not the Church's position, and it never has been. The Church's position is that the Son was eternally begotten of the Father.

This is also the position of the Reformed creeds and confessions. It is the position of my Confession as well, The London Baptist Confession of 1689.

I think it is important to recognize the mystery here, but it is also important to humbly bow the knee to the mind of the Church.

"BUT WE JUST NEED TO GO BACK TO THE BIBLE!"

Some will say, "OK, so it's the position of the historic Church, and the position of the Reformed confessions. So what? What matters is what the Bible says."

I am all for what Scripture says. I think that this can be deduced from Scripture as well. But there is also something to be said for submitting to the mind of the Church. Do we understand Scripture perfectly? It has always been the heretics who have said that we need to ignore what the Church has always said.

"BUT THE REFORMERS WERE ALL ABOUT SOLA SCRIPTURA!"

Yes, the Reformers were about Sola Scriptura, as am I. But they never understood Sola Scriptura as just "me, my Bible, and the Holy Spirit." Indeed, Roman Catholic heretics and Eastern Orthodox heretics always criticize us Protestants for this kind of attitude.

But, historically, "me, my Bible, and the Holy Spirit" was never the attitude of the Reformers, and it is not what Sola Scriptura means. No, they understood it as submission to the mind of the Church, and bowed the knee to her most willingly. They recognized that the Church was indeed "the pillar and foundation of all truth." They saw the Bible as the Church's book. This is the position of the Reformed faith today as well.

UPCOMING ARTICLE

In part 2, I will be posting an article from a brother which is excellent on the eternal Sonship of Christ. I again also refer my readers to Louis Berkhof's excellent treatment in his Systematic Theology.

I hope that these posts aid us all to marvel at how mysterious and how beautiful our God is!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

RESULTS OF GABRIEL'S MRI

Thank you all for praying for Gabriel's MRI results. My wifey-pooh I'm sure will have more details over at her blog: www.athinkingwoman.reformedblogs.com .

Gabriel's MRI was normal, which means there was nothing wrong physically with his brain. As many know, his EEG was abnormal, meaning his brainwaves were abnormal.

We are pretty sure he has some form of mild autism or asperger's syndrome. We are seeing a Christian counselor who specializes in this field every month as well.

Please continue to pray for our precious Gabriel. What a gift he is from our Lord!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

PRAISE TO THE GOD OF MERCY!

Gabriel woke up from the anesthesia! Praise our Lord for His mercy!
____________________________________________________

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation! All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth, Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee; Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee. What need or grief ever hath failed of relief? Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee; Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee. Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging, Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging, Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace, Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding, Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding, Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night, Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him. Let the Amen sound from His people again, Gladly for aye we adore Him.

WHY GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY MATTERS

This morning, I am glad to be a Calvinist.

My family just left to go to Gabriel's MRI. The kids are going to be at a friend's house from church (except Owen, who is still on the breast).

I know that to some, anesthesia is just routine. But as a father who loves my son deeply, it was hard for me to not wonder, What if this is the last time I see Gabriel?

I can't go back to sleep. Too many thoughts running in my head.

But this is why I am so thankful to believe in God's sovereignty.

Many Christians believe in God's sovereignty, but I dare say not to a biblical extent. The Reformed faith is deeply and intensely practical.

I just visited my wifey's blog, in which I reread the lyrics to that wonderful hymn, "Whate'er My God Ordains Is Right." I remember singing that hymn at the memorial service of the wife of one of the elders of my church, astounded and blown away at the beauty of God's people.

What comfort! What hope! What security in the midst of trials!

You see, Islam believes in a fatalistic view of predestination, but the Bible teaches predestination inclusive of means, and, most of all, guided by God's infinite wisdom and loving hand. This is the doctrine of divine providence.

But on the other hand, many Christians today do not go far enough with God's sovereignty. "God ordained ALL things? What do you mean? Are you telling me that He has decided from all eternity who is going to heaven and who is going to hell? Are you telling me that it can't be any other way?"

That is what the Bible says. How can we have any hope at all if God is not in control of even the smallest details of life? Consider a snowflake that falls from the sky. Did you know that each and every snowflake is carefully crafted by God? Did you know that each one is intricate in detail? Did you know that each one is different--at least so far as our inductive reasoning can tell us?

You see, if God has not ordained everything, then that means that there are things that are not under His control. This would be utter chaos, and there would be no hope. How could there be order to such an event? This is part-atheism. This is like saying order can come from disorder, and that something can come from nothing. This "god" would be the "god" of open theism, which is really the "god" of atheism.

This is ultimately why there are only two religions, although all religions would fall on the spectrum: Calvinism, and atheism.

But I know that, whatever happens this morning with Gabriel's MRI, that it was ordained of my loving Heavenly Father. He has ordained whatever happens because He loves me, and He is committed to His glory. He works all things out to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). Nothing can happen apart from His divine decree (Lam. 3:37-38).

But the truest love of all is the love that continually conforms me to the Image of Christ.

This is why I am a Calvinist. God has ordained all things, and He is faithful to His covenant. He is sanctifying His Bride, the Church. He continually shapens us and moulds us into the image of His dear Son.

O Lord, help me to trust You. Thank You that I can rest in the fact that You have ordained all things. Whatever happens today, let me rest in You, the Most Wise, Sovereign, Author of Salvation. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

WE ARE POWERLESS

Tomorrow, my sweet 3-year old son, Gabriel Luther, is having an MRI. It is quite clear that he has mild autism, or asberger's syndrome. A recent brainscan came up abnormal, and hopefully tomorrow's MRI will be able to find what needs to be discovered.

Yet, to do this, they need to use anesthesia and put him under for a while. I worry about this. I know that it is routine and that it happens all the time, even to young children; but I worry.

Oh Lord, help me to trust in You.

WE ARE POWERLESS

Why do we live, even as Calvinists, as though we are in control of our own lives? We are powerless to overcome the mighty hand of God in His sovereignty. Yet, we know that God works all things out for the good of those who love Him. Our God rules in His most wise and providential fashion.

I spent much time with Gabriel tonight. We took him and the other kids to Chuck E Cheese, and then just Gabriel and I watched Nacho Libre (again) and ate popcorn and sipped raspberry-grape juice. He was very cuddly tonight.

I just put him to bed, and as I did, the tears came. Oh, what a precious child You have given us, O Lord!

What if You were to take him from us, O Lord? I pray we would trust You. I only pray we would love You more than life itself.

I have lived a shameful life of loving others and other things more than the infinitely enjoyable God of the universe. I am scared that something major would have to happen for God to knock some sense into me.

I know that He knows what is best.

If not tomorrow, soon there will come a time in which we need to be prepared to say, as Job did, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord."

O Lord, help us to find You more delightful and pleasurable than anyone or anything. May Christ be our all in all. Forgive my shameful idolatry. I am filth. Why do I labor for that which fades away? How foolish I am! I am dung.

O Lord, forgive me for deceiving myself into dare thinking that anything is more delightful than You. Everything I have comes from You.

I am powerless. Destroy me, that Christ may live in me.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

THE BLESSING AND GLORY OF CHILDREN

"Hey daddy, are you daddy?"

"Hey daddy, I dooed it!"

"Hey daddy, will you make me Superman?"

"Mommy, you're beautiful."

"Daddy, I want to watch the wrestling movie."

"Daddy, can I fly?"

"Yes, I may get up!"

"Can I kiss the princess?"

"Can I hug the princess?"

"Mommy, we can pray if we want."

"I disobeyed and I got in biiiiiiiig trouble."

"Does he need a spanking?"

"Look, mommy, God maded a beautiful rainboat!"
_______________________________________________________

Anyone have any from your kids that you would like to add in the comments section?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

JOHN PIPER AND JUSTIFICATION/SANCTIFICATION

I found a very helpful statement from Desiring God Ministries (DGM hereafter) on justification and sanctification.

John Piper (whose teaching ministry DGM is) has been accused of heterodoxy, and sometimes even heresy. However, I believe that those who are accusing him of that do not fully understand his position.

Read sections 9 and 10 of DGM's statement. Many people have problems with 10.3 particularly. However, when we consider a full-orbed perspective and the various passages of Holy Scripture, we may be able to see where DGM is coming from.

I encourage you to read the Scriptures listed at the statement itself by going to this link: www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/affirmation_of_faith.pdf

I think the statement does a good job of considering the full counsel of Scripture, which speaks of how we are justified by faith alone, and how yet we must strive to persevere for final or consummate salvation.

(Some are uncomfortable with the terminology of "final salvation," but when we consider that "salvation" is a broad term in Scripture which includes the whole package of justification, sanctification, and glorification, this should not be too problematic.)

May the Lord continue to aid our understanding of His Word, and may He be pleased to cause us to persevere in the faith once for all delivered unto the saints!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

MY WIFEY-POOH TURNS 26 TOMORROW!!!

My adorable bride, Angela, a.k.a. Angela the Beautiful, Cupcake, Queen, Princess-Queen, Sweetie, etc., turns 26 years old tomorrow!

She will be enjoying her birthday AND Mother's Day, all rolled into one!

I could not have asked for a better wife. I am excited about her birthday. I could not have asked for a better mother for my children. I am excited about Mother's Day.

I publicly want to announce that I am so happy to be married to you, my beautiful bride. You have been such an excellent wife. You take care of me and the kids so well. Words cannot express how much I love you.

Happy birthday, you adorable sweetheart!!!

Monday, April 30, 2007

WHAT SAY YE? ARE THE FEDERAL VISION AND NEW PERSPECTIVES HERESY?

Readers,

I just noticed that the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) finished their study report on the Federal Vision, Auburn Avenue Theology, and New Perspectives on Paul. I was delighted to see that the committee declared that these ideas were out of accord with the Westminster Standards.

However, the report said something which I was surprised to see:

"The committee also affirms that we view NPP and FV proponents in the PCA as brothers in Christ. Thus, we take their published statements and writings seriously."

As I mentioned, I was surprised to see this. This raises a lot of questions in my mind. Many of these men are denying the imputation of Christ's active obedience, but more than that, many of them are denying justification by faith alone. (They do not like the term "alone" when it comes to justification.) Many of them speak as Shepherd does, openly affirming a "final justification" and a present justification by "faithfulness."

You can read the PCA Committee Report by clicking on this link:

www.byfaithonline.com/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID323422CHID664014CIID2326076,00.html

I was furthermore surprised to see that Ligon Duncan was on the committee, yet he considers them brothers.

This raises another question: Are we to consider Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox our brothers too?

Is not justification by faith alone the article on which the church stands or falls?

It is time to start asking ourselves these tough questions.

Readers, what do you think?

PLEASE COMMENT

Readers, please comment on the following questions:

(1) Do you think we should consider proponents of the FV and NPP our brothers in Christ? Why or why not?

(2) If you answered "yes" to question 1, then do you think we should consider Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox our brothers?

(3) If you answered "yes" to question 1, then what is the gospel? What does it mean that in the gospel a "righteousness from God" is revealed? What is the "righteousness of God"?

(I know what I believe; just curious as to what you believe. It seems like many Reformed folks are afraid to come out and say what they think on this. I couldn't get an answer from Guy Waters even, and he wrote a book critiquing the FV, and another critiquing the NPP.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

REST IN PEACE, DR. MEREDITH KLINE

I found out recently that Dr. Meredith Kline, former professor at Westminster West, passed away on Friday, April 13th (one day before my birthday). Dr. Kline contributed much to Old Testament studies, particularly with regards to ancient Near-eastern suzerain-vassal treaties.

Although there was much about Kline's theology which was alarming (particularly the framework hypothesis, his sharp dichotomy between secular and sacred, and his view of some of the OT miracles), it is refreshing to realize that he is with our Lord, seeing Christ face to face.

May Dr. Kline rest in peace, and may our Lord comfort those who are mourning this precious loss.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

GOD HATES CHO SEUNG-HUI

The most notorious shooting in American history took place recently. I just wanted to give my two cents.

The gunman was named Cho Seung-Hui. Arminian theology says that God loves everyone "equally and alike," and that even after unbelievers die and suffer the eternal wrath of God. However, let me be clear.

God hates Cho Seung-Hui.

God was pleased, it appears, in His eternal wisdom, to pass over Cho Seung-Hui. Seung-Hui is numbered among the reprobates, that is, those whom God delivers eternal justice to.

But let us not jump ahead in a judgmental way. We are all Cho Seung-Huis running around. If it weren't for God's sovereign grace placed upon the Christian, we would still be in our sins, and we all have the capacity within us to kill six million Jews.

Seung-Hui is burning in hell as we speak, and he will also spend eternity burning in the Lake of Fire, receiving the eternity of God's justice and anger, wrath, and hatred against him. It is a holy hatred, and a holy wrath, and a holy anger.

My friend's response to an atheist's article on this issue I also heartily recommend to you:

www.triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/04/times-like-this.html

O Lord, thank You for having mercy upon me. Help us all not to question arrogantly Your wisdom in ordaining this terrible event. I know that You have myriad reasons in Your infinite wisdom. Help us to view this event according to Your Word, which is Truth. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Monday, April 16, 2007

DO POSTMILLENNIALISM AND THEONOMY LOGICALLY REQUIRE EACH OTHER?

I have heard it asserted by some friends of mine (some theonomic and some not) that postmillennialism and theonomy require each other. Some have even told me that I am inconsistent in affirming postmillennialism, while yet denying theonomy. One of my theonomic friends, however, I believe correctly pointed out that they do NOT logically require each other.

I thought that a good way to settle this notion was to demonstrate in Greg Bahnsen's reasoning that they indeed do NOT require each other. As many of you readers know, Greg Bahnsen was both theonomic and postmillennial, yet the following article will give some logical demonstration as to why the two positions do not logically require one another.

In other words, indeed it is NOT inconsistent to hold to postmillennialism, but to reject theonomy. Let us listen to Greg Bahnsen himself on this matter.
_______________________

Dr.Bahnsen's reply in his 1978 reply to the Editor of the PresbyterianJournal: "Distinguishing What Will from What Ought to Happen" (section from his article entitled "God's Law and Gospel Prosperity: A Reply to the Editor of the Presbyterian Journal")

"The second mistake in the editor's description of theonomic ethicsand postmillennial eschatology is his assertion that the twoperspectives require each other. According to him theonomy andpostmillennialism go "hand in hand" (9-6, p. 3a) and are "indispensable to each other" (9-6, p. 14b). Of course, if both positions are scriptural, then they would naturally complement and strengthen each other as part of a unified system of truth (just as do, for instance, the doctrines of sin and redemption). However such a harmony between the two positions does not mean that people must choose them in tandem or reject them as a pair. Logically there is a distinction to be drawn between what will in fact happen and what ought to happen. Let me illustrate. Someone can readily believe that Congress will increase the Social Security Tax, and yet not at all believe that Congress ought to do so. On the other hand, someone could believe that the church ought to develop a deaconal system for relieving the poor, and still not believe that the church will actually do it. What will happen, and what should happen are (unhappily) very often quite contrary to each other. Accordingly the editor has committed a logical lapse in saying that postmillennialism and theonomic ethics are indispensable to each other.

"Postmillennialism says that the nations of the world will be converted and come to enact God's law in their societies, while theonomic ethics maintains (among other things) that nations ought to enact God's law in their societies. One can believe one totally without the other. Someone might believe that nations ought to enforce God's law, but never will do so. Someone else might believe that nations will enforce God's law, but ought not to do so.Therefore, the two positions of theonomic ethics and postmillennial eschatology are logically separate from each other. They are also psychologically separate from each other, for as a matter of fact some postmillennialists are not theonomic in their ethical outlook -–just as some theonomists are not postmillenial in their eschatological outlook. Many people come to these positions separately, as did myself, without the one suggesting or influencing the other. Again, I feel that there is a beautiful harmony between the two positions, for I believe that they are both the teaching of God's word. But logically and psychologically a person can surely hold to one without the other."

"Another passing indication that postmillennialism and theonomic ethics do not require each other is the existence of varying schools of postmillennial eschatology. Roughly speaking I can delineate at least four distinct options proposed through history which might be (with greater or lesser accuracy) designated "postmillennialism." (1) Some have held that the gospel will prosper throughout the world, bringing widespread revival so that the large majority of people are believers; such gospel prosperity, with Christian nurture over time, is bound to have public consequences (cf. "Ye are the salt of the earth . . .. Ye are the light of the world"). Thus revival will eventuate in Christ's commandments being obeyed in all walks of life. This is, I believe, the classic Reformed version of postmillennialism (as evidenced in my article in the Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Vol. III, No. 2). (2) Others have maintained that the coming of Christ's kingdom is to be identified with social progress, public reform, and better relations among all men; such goals will be accomplished through humanistic but peacefulmeans of persuasion and reform movements. Here we have the typical "social gospel" version of postmillennialism – a secularization and truncating of the Reformed perspective. (3) Still others have laid their stress on social reformation, but have advocated the means of violent revolt, overt warfare, and external imposition of new social conditions. This might be deemed a kind of Anabaptist version of postmillennialism, sometimes expressed in the Reformation period and condemned by many Calvinists as "seditious"or "stupid." (4) Finally we can mention the view that many people around the world will come to believe the gospel so that our churches will be overwhelmingly filled with Christians and the nations of the world will worship God aright; however (amazingly) this gospel prosperity will not have distinctive and positive consequences for social and political righteousness. It is hard to find a fair, descriptive label for this position since it seems to me to truncate the Reformed view, to represent a retreat from a scriptural world-and-life-view, and to be biblically implausible; thus to label it pietistic postmillennialism or "purely revivalistic" postmillennialism simply reflects an adverse personal evaluation -–and does despite to the full-orbed Reformed position by suggesting that it might be disinterested in piety or that genuine biblical revival could be restricted to internal matters of the heart and at best the church. So recognizing the inherent problem in choosing a fair designation, I will be content to call this fourth option 'ecclesiastical postmillennialism.'"

"Thus it is manifest that for the editor to make theonomic ethics and postmillennialism indispensable to each other is unfair to those versions of postmillenialism which -– in contrast to the Puritans, who were vitally interested in missions and the social use of God's law -–are indifferent to the public consequences of Christian belief (ecclesiastical postmillennialism), are indifferent to the revivalistic foundation of social reform (the social gospel), or are interested in altering social conditions in an antinomian fashion (Anabaptist postmillennialism). Not all postmillennialists would want to be affiliated with the position of theonomic ethics. This is not the place to critique such versions of postmillennialism (which I find biblically and theologically weak or inconsistent), but simply to make the relevant observational point. Therefore, on logical, psychological, and dogmatical grounds we must separate our consideration of theonomic ethics from that of postmillennial eschatology."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

AN URGENT PRAYER REQUEST

Brothers and sisters,

Today was my 30th birthday. To be honest, I kind of feel like I am hitting mid-life crisis quite early. The reason? Because, although I love my four children dearly, they misbehave and whine quite a lot.

Please pray for me especially, because I have realized that most of this is my fault. I need to step up to the plate more and be a better husband and a better father. My children need me, and my wife needs me.

Please pray that God would sanctify me more and more, so that my love of the world would turn more and more into a love for Christ, and a hatred for the world.

Please pray for grace and mercy for my wife, as she nurtures the four little ones while I am at work Mon-Fri.

Please pray, most of all, that the Lord would be pleased to save our little ones.

This prayer request is urgent. My wife and I covet your prayers tremendously.

Monday, April 09, 2007

MORE ON THE DANGERS OF DOGMATISM

I have lately considered even more the dangers of dogmatism, but this time especially in the area of eschatology. If I could sum it all up, yes, I am still postmillennial, but I am much more extremely cautious about this.

I have been thinking about how prophecy in Holy Scripture is many times fulfilled in ways we did not expect. Furthermore, prophecy can have numerous fulfillments, including literal, earthly, or spiritual. This is why I think it is dangerous to be dogmatic on our millennial position.

UPCOMING RESPONSE TO JOHN MACARTHUR

In light of this, I am planning to do an ambitious response to a man I have much respect for, but have been disturbed recently by a lecture he presented. That man is John Macarthur. I finally listened to his lecture "Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Should Be A Premillennialist", and, to say the least, was disturbed, and even bewildered by the claims he made in that presentation.

My upcoming response will be in several parts, but suffice it to say, I was astonished by his level of dogmatism in his lecture. My intention in doing my response is to show that it is indeed NOT clear that the Bible teaches premillennialism, and, in fact, even highly doubtful. My further intention is to show that indeed Bible prophecy many times CANNOT be taken literally.

Please feel free to add comments on the way as well. The series will begin soon.

Friday, March 23, 2007

BEHOLD, CHILDREN ARE A HERITAGE FROM THE LORD

Praise our Lord!!!

We had our beautiful baby Owen on March 21st at 4:00 in the morning, on the dot. He weighed 7 lbs, 15 oz.

His full name is Owen Isaac Brisby. We named him Owen after the great Puritan John Owen (who wrote the best defense of particular redemption ever to this date, and which has still not been answered by universal redemptionists and Amyraldians), and Isaac after the great patriarch of our faith.

Please pray that our little one will trust in the Lord Jesus one day.

Thank You, O Lord, for this little one. Please guard him and watch over him, and grant him faith and repentance, even very soon. May it please You, O God, to have mercy on him by showing him the great riches of salvation in Christ. In His Name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

HISTORICITY OF INFANT BAPTISM DOUBTFUL

As I have listened once again and studied up once again on paedobaptistic arguments, the area of history, at least, seems to call into question the paedobaptist view. David Wright, who is professor of Patristic and Reformed Christianity at the University of Edinburgh (and, I might add, a paedobaptist), warns us against the dangers of trying to use the historical record as one of the proofs for infant baptism. I will let my readers click on the link to read his excellent article:

www.baptism.org.uk/wright.htm


Also, two articles on the Triablogue website I thought were helpful in this regard as well:

www.triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/02/patristic-rejection-of-infant-baptism.html

and

www.triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/03/history-of-infant-baptism.html

Please read the articles, but they make the point that infant baptism was not the common practice of the church until well into the sixth century, and did not even show up until the second century (although it may had been around in small spurts before Tertullian).

The case is also made that modern historical scholarship is admitting (even admitted by paedobaptists) that credobaptism seems to have been the apostolic practice.

The articles certainly help shed some light on the question at hand.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

DISTURBED BY MACARTHUR'S RECENT COMMENTS

I have been grieved by John Macarthur's recent comments that he gave at the recent Shepherd's Conference. You can read about this online more or do a google search, but I am surprised that he would speak the way he did.

Let me be clear. I am not amillennial, but I think it is next to slanderous to claim that amillennialism is influenced by Arminianism.

Furthermore, I think that even amils could answer Macarthurs question of why the curses on Israel are literal but the blessings are transfered to the Church. Amillennialists (at least of the paedobaptist variety) would say that the curses are still offered to the Church if a visible member does not persevere, even as blessings are offered to those who do persevere.

Of course, as a postmillennialist, I think I have even a better answer for Macarthur. Why does one have to be amil to reject premil? In fact, I think one of the main strengths of the postmillennial eschatology is that it takes seriously both the timing of the eschaton, and the nature of the kingdom. I think this makes up for the weaknesses of both premillennialism and amillennialism.

Yet, I do not take a dogmatic stance on my eschatology. (See my recent post before this one.) However, I have some questions for Dr. Macarthur:

(1) Dr. Macarthur, why do you believe the Reformed faith has overwhelmingly rejected any form of premillennialism?

(2) Dr. Macarthur, do you really believe that the Reformed divines were Arminian in their outlook with regards to their eschatology?

(3) Dr. Macarthur, what has driven you to such a dogmatism with regards to your eschatology, especially when you are going against the majority of the Puritans and the Reformed divines?

Finally, I think there are always people who try to argue that their view is the "most consistent" with Reformed theology. In fact, check out an article by Richard Muller, a paedobaptist brother, which tries to argue that the continental Reformed tradition is the most consistent with Calvinism and Reformed theology. You can read the article by clicking on http://www.kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/how-many-points/ .

Again, another warning against dogmatism.

Monday, March 12, 2007

DOGMATICALLY AGAINST DOGMATISM

I need to dogmatically assert the following:

We need to be careful about being dogmatic on issues of the faith which are in the more debated camp. That is not to say that we should not debate and dialogue in love; it is merely to say that we need to avoid dogmatism.

Consider an issue which I was very dogmatic about in the past. In the past, I have been very dogmatic about the doctrine of credobaptism. I would say that it is "clear" that the Bible is against infant baptism. Likewise, I have read many paedobaptist brethren assert that the Bible "clearly" teaches covenantal infant baptism.

Yet, godly men on both sides of the camp, throughout church history, have been many.

I could name many godly Reformed Baptists, both contemporary and past; and I could name many godly Reformed paedobaptists, both contemporary and past. This, at least prima facie, should warn us against the danger of being dogmatic on the issue of the proper subjects of baptism.

Many of my Baptist brethren find it hard to believe how anyone could believe in infant baptism, but I would dare say that that is because, perhaps, they are unfamiliar with the case for Reformed paedobaptism. Again, I am not saying I agree with paedobaptism--I am just saying that we need to be careful when it comes to dogmatism against it.

Paedobaptists do not believe infant baptism for sentimental reasons. They believe it because they think the Bible teaches it.

Baptists do not reject infant baptism for sentimental reasons. They believe in professors' baptism alone because they think the Bible teaches it.

MY BAPTISM "TESTIMONY"

I was raised dispensational and Southern Baptist. By God's grace, I came to the Reformed faith in 1996. I was Presbyterian, and paedobaptistic, for two years at the time. In 1999, by God's grace, I became a Reformed Baptist, after having met a Reformed Baptist brother and having studied the issue. I grew into a dogmatism when it came to Reformed credobaptism, and I even came to the point where I dared to say that paedobaptism had no good arguments, no, not one.

Yet, years ago I had seen some problems with the Reformed Baptist view. I do not wish to go into them here and now--perhaps in a later post. But I still remain a Baptist. I am not convinced of paedobaptism at this point. May the Lord lead me into all truth if I am wrong. I remain open to change here, I hope, by God's grace. And I continue to study. May God forgive me if I am wrong.

I am not trying to open up another baptism debate with this post; I am merely trying to warn against dogmatism in secondary issues. For some reason, God has seen fit in His providence, in the history of His Church, to have this issue unresolved at present. I have to respectfully disagree now with the Reformers when they said that one of the three marks of a true church is the proper administration of the sacraments. If it were, then would not our Lord have made that issue clear in His Word? Yet the debate remains unresolved.

As a postmillennialist (and I could be wrong there too!), I believe the issue will be resolved before our Lord returns. Until then, may the Lord Jesus' prayer for unity among His brethren continue to be fulfilled.

O Lord, I thank You for Your people, both paedobaptist and credobaptist. Our Father, we desire to be faithful to Your Word when it comes to the sacraments. Please, our God, in Your providence, would You be pleased to take away the fog and open our eyes to the beauty of Your sacraments? Would you be pleased to make it clear to us how You would have us treat them? As Your precious Son, Who is our Righteousness, has prayed, may we be brought to complete unity. Even as You are Triune, O Great Three-In-One, I lift this prayer to You in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

WHEN TWO REFORMED PEOPLE TALK

I hope that my fellow Reformed brethren will get a good laugh out of this, while at the same time I hope it will show us the vital importance of charity. -- Josh Brisby

Here is what it sounds like when two Reformed people talk:

Calvin: "Hello, my name is Calvin. What's your name?"

Knox: "My name is Knox. What is your confession?"

C: "Why, the London Baptist Confession of Faith."

K: "Mine too! But which edition?"

C: "Why, 1689, of course!"

K: "Mine too!"

C: "What eschatology do you hold to?"

K: "I'm postmillennial."

C: "Really? Me too!"

-Great! But what prophetic school do you hold to?

-I'm an idealist.

-Great! Me too! Are you Sabbatarian?

-No, I believe the Sabbath is a Christian liberty, fulfilled in Christ.

-Great! Me too! That is so rare in Reformed circles; it's so nice to find someone I agree with on the Sabbath issue.

-Exactly. But what is your view of the law?

-Well, I'm of course covenantal, so the moral law is still binding.

-I'm a covenant theologian too! I believe the moral law is binding too! But are you theonomic?

-No way! Theonomy is incorrect.

-I think it is incorrect too!

-But are you infralapsarian or supralapsarian?

-I'm infra.

-Me too! Besides, all the orthodox Calvinists are infra. The hyper ones are supra.

-Right!

-What about the ordinances? Do you mind calling them "sacraments"?

-Of course not. They are means of grace.

-So you agree that the sacraments are effectual means of salvation?

-Even as Keach's catechism says, yes, when blessed by the Spirit of God. In a manner of speaking, they are effectual.

-I agree in a manner of speaking too!

-But do you mind calling the Table the Eucharist?

-No, I think that is a good and helpful term.

-Great!

-So I assume then that you are not a Zwinglian memorialist, but a Calvinist suprasubstantiationist, right?

-Absolutely!

-Wow!

-WOW!!!

-Do you hold to the regulative principle?

-Of course!

-Great! But are you a cessationist?

-Yes, of course!

-Me too!

-But are you a strict subscriptionist or a moderate subscriptionist?

-Well, I'm still studying the issue . . . but I lean a bit toward the moderate subscription position.

-THEN YOU ARE A HERETIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 26, 2007

A CRITIQUE OF THEONOMY, part 3

As we close our critique of theonomy, let me say that, I of course do not claim to have the last word on the matter. Could I be wrong? Absolutely--I could be wrong. I also know that as human beings, we influence each other more easily than we even know. So, if I am wrong, may the Lord open my eyes to see that I am wrong. So where do I stand on this issue?

I BELIEVE IN GOD'S LAW

I believe in God's Law, and I think the best book demonstrating a theology of the state, and even more, is Vern Poythress' The Shadow of Christ In the Law of Moses. To be fair, Bahnsen responds to this in his book No Other Standard, in which he claims that Poythress is kind of a theonomist, but one with a severely weak view of theonomy. That may be, but the concerns remain that we avoid a flat type of hermeneutic.

Finally, I would refer the reader to not only the above book, but also to the brief article found at www.reformed.org by G.I. Williamson entitled "Some Thoughts On Theonomy", as well as John Frame's excellent article in Theonomy: A Reformed Critique, called "The One, The Many, And Theonomy". Frame (in his usual style) speaks of the benefits and problems of both theonomy and intrusion ethics.*

Until next time brothers and sisters, this is the unconvinced of theonomy non-theonomist Josh Brisby, signing off. :0)

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*Intrusion ethics is the popular view of Meredith Kline, which sees the Mosaic Covenant as a temporary intrusion into history of eschatological judgment. Since, Kline argues, it was a temporary intrusion, we should not model today's state after it.