Saturday, October 31, 2015

Reformation Day, n.

In the vein of Ambrose Bierce's The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary:

Reformation Day, n. That one day of the year when Protestants pull out and dust off the seven or so Latin phrases they know (learned from R. C. Sproul), which had lain dormant since last October 31.

This devilish definition was thought up by a junior devil who has been taking cues from Bierce's entertaining forays into lexicography.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Edwards as Interpreter in an Enlightenment Context

The following quotation accurately describes my own experience and understanding both of Edwards and the current state of affairs in modern biblical studies. Having recently completed a master's degree in biblical exegesis, it is one of the reasons I'm so drawn to Edwards.
Edwards tried to interpret the Bible theologically. He handled it not as a collection of antiquarian artifacts, but as the living Word of One who calls himself "I Am." Thus he studied it both as scholars study sets of primary sources (to understand the lives of those for whom they were first put to writing) and—in a manner more important to his daily pastoral ministry—as priestly theologians study the oracles of God (to understand his will for those who still have ears to hear). This sets him apart from many other Western biblical scholars, whether Christian or non-Christian. For higher criticism has ruled the roost in modern biblical studies, shaping the ways that even pastors think of preaching Sunday sermons. 
—Douglas A. Sweeney, Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word: A Model of Faith and Thought (InterVarsity, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), 96.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Blessing of YHWH in Jesus' Blood

The Songs of Ascents (120–134) are among my favorite portions of Scripture. And Psalm 128 is one of my favorites among these songs. These songs were likely sung while the Israelites were in Babylonian exile when they made their pilgrimage several times a year to Jerusalem for the great old covenant feasts.

Psalm 128 sings about what it means to be blessed. Psalm 128 promises blessing. It promises blessing to "the man who fears YHWH, the one who walks in his ways" (v. 1). Then that blessing is spelt out (v. 2): satisfaction in work ("you shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands") and peace everywhere ("it shall be well with you"). This sort of blessedness speaks directly to the curse—and is something of a reversal of it! Held out hundreds of years before the Christ came and bore the curse in his own body (Gal. 3:13).

The blessing flowing to the one who fears YHWH is further described in v. 3: a fruitful family, with fruitful wife and children ("your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table"). This blessing comes from Zion (v. 4), where God dwells, the city of the great King. And the psalmist prays and the people sing for this man who fears YHWH to have long life and see Jerusalem's prosperity and his grandchildren, and for peace to be upon all Israel (vv. 5–6).

This is the blessing of YHWH for those who fear his great and good name. And that fear to which these great promises come was purchased in the new covenant bought with Jesus' blood (Jer. 32:36–41; Lk. 22:20). So all praise to King Jesus, the true Israelite, the true Jew, the man who feared YHWH fully and faithfully!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Scripture Coming into Its Own

"A doctrine develops when the need arises. It was precisely because of the conflict over the locus of authority in the church that the doctrine of Scripture came into its own in Reformation confessions and Post-Reformation Reformed dogmatics"[1] (Vanhoozer, "Holy Scripture: Word of God; Word of Christ; Sword of the Spirit," Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL, October 14, 2015).

[1] Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics vol. 2 Holy Scripture: The Cognitive Foundation of Theology 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 152.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

You Don't Need to Be Protestant, But . . .

One does not have to be a Protestant, of course, to be a Christian. However, the Reformation Protestants have a vital and enduring contribution to make to the catholic church, and it concerns sola scriptura. A church that no longer acknowledges the supreme authority of God’s word written is in danger of straying from God's will, misidentifying Jesus Christ, even missing the gospel. 
—Kevin Vanhoozer, "Methods, Norms, and Sources: How to Do Theology" (lecture, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL, October 8, 2015).

Monday, October 12, 2015

Christianity: An Unfolding Drama

The Christian faith is, first and foremost, an unfolding drama. Geerhardus Vos observed, "The Bible is not a dogmatic handbook but a historical book full of dramatic interest."[1] This story that runs from Genesis to Revelation, centering on Christ, not only richly informs our mind; it captivates the heart and the imagination, animating and motivating our action in the world (The Christian Faith, 19).

[1] Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948), 17.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Our Cultural-Linguistic Location in Christ

"Each of us is conditioned in our hearing and reading of God's Word by our cultural-linguistic location. Nevertheless, the most decisive cultural-linguistic location for the covenant people is 'in Christ,' under the normative authority of his Word" (Horton, The Christian Faith, 201).

It Happens All Too Often

"It is possible to hold a high view of biblical authority and sufficiency in theory while yielding a magisterial role in practice to sociology, politics, marketing, psychology, and other cultural authorities" (Horton, The Christian Faith, 200).

Monday, October 5, 2015

Unmistakable Marks of Glory

The final goal of the blessed life, moreover, rests in the knowledge of God. Lest anyone, then, be excluded from access to happiness, he not only sowed in men's minds that seed of religion of which we have spoken but revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe. As a consequence, men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see him. Indeed, his essence is incomprehensible; hence, his divineness far escapes all human perception. But upon his individual works he has engraved unmistakable marks of his glory, so clear and so prominent that even unlettered and stupid folk cannot plead the excuse of ignorance.
—John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.5.1

Friday, October 2, 2015

Do It Again!

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daises alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
—G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1995), 36–37.