Thursday, April 30, 2015

An Telling African Proverb

"Until lions have their historians, the hunter will always be the hero of the story."

—As recalled by Michael W. Goheen, Introducing Christian Mission Today: Scripture, History and Issues (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2014), 28.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Selfishness Defined

"There are [those] who in their love to their own happiness place their happiness in good things which are confined and limited to themselves exclusive of others. And this is selfishness."

—Jonathan Edwards, Ethical Writings (vol. 8 in the Works of Jonathan Edwards; ed. Paul Ramsey; New Haven: Yale University, 1989), 257.

Friday, April 24, 2015

He Won for Us Forgiveness, Adoption, and Glory

The notion which the phrase "penal substitution" expresses is that Jesus Christ our Lord, moved by a love that was determined to do everything necessary to save us, endured and exhausted the destructive divine judgement for which we were otherwise inescapably destined, and so won us forgiveness, adoption, and glory.
—James I. Packer, "What Did the Cross Achieve? The Logic of Penal Substitution," in Celebrating the Saving Work of God: The Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer Volume 1 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster), 105.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Was Christum Treibet

"Luther was right in applying the criterion was Christum treibet [whatever promotes Christ], but wrong in not recognizing that the Epistle of James also 'promotes Christ' by its practical application of the Sermon on the Mount."

—Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (New York: Oxford, 1997), 244, n 30.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What Is a Christian?

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."

—C. S. Lewis, "On Forgiveness," in The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperCollins, 1980), 182.

Real Forgiveness

Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it.
—C. S. Lewis, "On Forgiveness," in The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperCollins, 1980), 181.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Here's a good brief post on a good revised theological dictionary: NIDNTTE.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Standing in Awe of God's Word to Face the Foe

In Ps. 119:161, princes sit plotting against the psalmist. His strategy to combat this was unusual (at least it is likely to seem so to us). It was not military (at least not mainly). Instead, he stood in awe of God’s Word. He revered God’s Word. God's wonderful Word still held him and dominated his thinking and outlook—despite immense external pressure.  

And so, likewise, it ought to be, whatever we might find ourselves facing, as we face an array of foes. Whether these foes be civil, or legal, or religious, or local, or even familial, standing in awe of God’s Word and revering God’s Word ought to be the primary posture of the godly who would not be overwhelmed by the foe faced, but more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Friday, April 17, 2015

No Room for Any Reserve

Commenting on Mark 12:30, Edwards says (italics mine for emphasis):
Here is contained in these words a description of a right love to God; and they teach us that they who love him aright do devote all to him, all their hearts, and all their souls, all their mind and all their strength, or all their powers and faculties. Surely, a man who gives all this wholly to God keeps nothing back, but devotes himself wholly and entirely to God. He who gives God all his heart, and all his soul, and all his mind, and all his powers or strength, keeps nothing back; there is no room for any reserve. All who have true love to God have a spirit thus to do. This shows how much a principle of true love to God is above a selfish principle. For if self be devoted wholly to God, then there is something above self which influences the man; there is something superior to self which takes self and makes an offering of it to God. A selfish principle never devotes self to another; the nature of it is to devote all others to self. They who have true love to God, love God as God, and as the supreme good; whereas the nature of selfishness is to set up self for God, to make an idol of self. That being which men respect as God, they devote all to. They who idolize self devote all to self, but they who love God as God devote all to him. 
—Jonathan Edwards, Ethical Writings (vol. 8 in the Works of Jonathan Edwards; ed. Paul Ramsey; New Haven: Yale University, 1989), 261–262.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Christians Are Open Books

"Non-Christians do not read the Bible; they read Christians."

—Christopher W. Morgan, A Theology of James: Wisdom for God's People (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2010), xiii.

The Canonical Context of the Psalms

In a paper titled "Towards a Canonical Reading of the Psalms," Gordon Wenham asks and answers the question, "what is the canonical context in which we read each psalm?"

His answer, at least as a starting place, seems to me to be a very good answer. Here's what he says:
I tend to think three canonical contexts are more important than others. 
First, there is the canonical context of the whole Psalter. . . . [It] is imperative to read one psalm in the context of the whole collection and in particular in relation to its near neighbors.  
Second, there is reading the psalms in the context of the Jewish canon, the Hebrew Bible.  The psalms themselves invite this by their frequent reference to historical figures and episodes from the past. . . .  
Third, of course, the psalms need to be read in the context of the Christian canon of Old and New Testaments. The Psalms are the book of the Old Testament most quoted in the New Testament: it appears that the early Christians inhabited the thought world of the psalms, so that any biblical theology that would be Christian must read the psalms in this context. 
—Gordon Wenham, "Towards a Canonical Reading of the Psalms," in Canon and Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 347–348.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Christian Public Leadership

Especially will a Christian spirit dispose those who stand in a public capacity, such as ministers and magistrates and all public officers, to seek the public good. It will dispose magistrates to act as the fathers of the commonwealth with that care and concern for the public good that the father of a family has for the family, watchful against any public dangers, forward to improve their power to promote the public benefit, not being governed by selfish views in their administrations, seeking only or mainly to enrich themselves, or make themselves great, and advance themselves on the spoils of others as wicked rulers very often do. 
A Christian spirit will dispose ministers not to seek their own, not merely to seek a maintenance, aiming to get whatever they can out of their people to enrich themselves and their families, and to clothe themselves with the fleeces of their flock. But a Christian spirit will dispose them mainly to seek the good of their flock, to feed their souls as a good shepherd feeds his flock, and carefully watches over it, to lead it to good pasture, and defend it from wolves and others beasts of prey. 
—Jonathan Edwards, Ethical Writings (vol. 8 in the Works of Jonathan Edwards; ed. Paul Ramsey; New Haven: Yale University, 1989), 261–262.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Models for Theologizing

The whole study of Christian theology, biblical, historical and systematic, is the exploring of a three tier hierarchy of models: first, the "control" models given in Scripture (God, Son of God, kingdom of God, justification, adoption, redemption, new birth and so forth—in short, all the concepts analysed in Kittel's great Wörterbuch and its many epigoni); next, dogmatic models which the church crystallized out to define and defend the faith (homoousion, Trinity, nature, hypostatic union, double procession of the Spirit, sacrament, the supernatural, etc.—in short, all the concepts usually dealt wiht in doctrinal textbooks); finally, interpretive models lying between Scripture and defined dogma which particular theologians and theological schools developed for stating the faith to contemporaries (penal substitution, verbal inspiration, divinization, Barth's "Nihil"—das Nichtige—and many more.
—James I. Packer, "What Did the Cross Achieve? The Logic of Penal Substitution," in Celebrating the Saving Work of God: The Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer Volume 1 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster), 93–94.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Next Great Heresy

Chesterton back in 1926, speaking with real insight into real states of affairs:
For the next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality; and especially on sexual morality. And it is coming, not from a few Socialists surviving from the Fabian Society, but from the living exultant energy of the rich resolved to enjoy themselves at last, with neither Popery nor Puritanism nor Socialism to hold them back . . . The madness of tomorrow is not in Moscow, but much more in Manhattan.
—G.K. Chesterton, "The Next Heresy," in G.K.’s Weekly, June 19, 1926.

HT: Our Transgressive Daisy Chain

Now That's a Good Question

"'I was born gay!' 'Gender is a social construct!' Hmmmm . . . which is it?"

—Doug Wilson, Our Transgressive Daisy Chain

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Gospel Spirit

"A Christian spirit and a gospel spirit are the same. That is the spirit to which the Christian revelation tends."

—Jonathan Edwards, Ethical Writings (vol. 8 in the Works of Jonathan Edwards; ed. Paul Ramsey; New Haven: Yale University, 1989), 247.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Christian Spirit Is a Humble Spirit

In the sixth sermon of his famous sermon series on 1 Corinthians 13—Charity and Its Fruits—Jonathan Edwards preached on verses 4–5 and humility. The doctrine of the sermon is this: "a Christian spirit is a humble spirit." And then Edwards defines what humility is.

He says, "Humility may be defined to be a sense of our own comparative meanness, with a disposition to a behavior answerable thereto."

And then he unpacks this by speaking to its primary relationship and to the phenomenon of false humility:
Humility does primarily consist in a sense of [one's] own meanness as compared with God or a sense of the infinite distance between God and us. . . . There is no true humility without this. However sensible persons may be of their meanness as compared with some of their fellow creatures, yet there is no true humility without a sense of their meanness before God. 
Some men seem to have a low opinion of themselves as compared with other men from melancholy, or from the meanness of their circumstances, or from their natural constitution, or from some other cause, who know nothing of that infinite distance which is between God and them; and therefore, though men may be ready to look upon them as humble-spirited men, yet they have no true humility; for that which above all other things concerns us to know of ourselves is what we are before God. . . . And if we are ignorant of our meanness as compared with him, the most essential thing and that which is original in true humility is wanting. 
—Jonathan Edwards, Ethical Writings (vol. 8 in the Works of Jonathan Edwards; ed. Paul Ramsey; New Haven: Yale University, 1989), 233–235.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Priest Pronounces One Clean or Unclean

I just read through Leviticus 13 before going into work today. What can all of this clean and unclean business possibly mean, not least for twenty-first century persons?

For my part, I'm convinced that the main reason the Lord gave the likes of Leviticus is to give us categories for understanding the gospel, for understanding ourselves as sinful, for understanding his holiness, and for understanding his provision in the Christ.

What struck me as of interest in Leviticus 13 as I read it this time is that it is the priest who pronounces one clean or unclean. Here yet again, then, do we have another category given for apprehending the gospel—Christ is the ultimate priest who takes on the role of the one who declares one clean or unclean.

Go have a look. Check it out, here and there and everywhere in the Gospels, including in the upper room where Jesus declares his disciples clean (John 13). He is the ultimate priest to which all other priests point, and he alone has the prerogative of declaring you or me to be clean. 

The Ground of the Being of Meaning

Kevin Vanhoozer:
The author's will acts as a control on interpretation. Thanks to an author's willing this rather than that, we can say that there is a definite meaning in texts prior to reading and interpretation. As God's will structures the universe, so the author's will structures the universe of discourse. The author is thus the ground of the "being" of meaning. 
—Kevin Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text? The Bible, the Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 47.