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.