Is the Bible only true, because it says it is?

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Recently member’s of the Mormon faith came to my door, encouraging me to read from the book of Mormon. I explained that I was a Christian and believed God’s complete word was recorded in the Bible. They argued that the BoM was “another testament of Jesus Christ” and that I should give it a try. They gave me their testimony, that they felt the truth of this book “in their gut” and explained that the God would reveal the truth of it to me as well through a “burning in the bosom” if I would but give it a try. Do we propagate our Bible in the same way?  Do we believe it is true because of a feeling of indigestion? Continue reading

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A Day Late and A Dollar Short: Or How to See Christ as your Perfect Resource

I recently travelled from Louisville, Kentucky back home to Calgary, Alberta. The trip required a stop over in Chicago, which ended up being an overnight. Having your travel plans ruined is a frustrating experience, especially when you have family and ministry commitments to get back to. I finally got back, a day late and a hundred dollars short! But the adventure gave me a thought about the spiritual journey all believers are on.  Continue reading

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Historical Theology

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I have been reading Greg Allison’s Historical Theology and refreshing my mind on some of the early thinking of the Church on the Scriptures.

Beyond the topics themselves, revelation, canonicity, inspiration, inerrancy, and the authority and clarity of Scripture (all fascinating discussions), what has struck me most is consensus. These subjects were not much under debate, as the NT authors, early Fathers, Nicene and Post Nicene thinkers and early medieval writers all shared a high view of Scripture (as a collection of 66 canonical books) verbally inspired by God and so without error, intended to speak clearly and be understood as truth and the final authority in all that it addressed.

For about 1300 years the church spoke with one voice on these issues, and then a shift occurred resulting in the Roman Apostasy and the rise of the Reformation. Rome began to argue for two sources of authority, Scripture and Church authority. This was largely rooted in an attack on the clarity and authority of the written Word.

Among the Protestant, these doctrines were essential and once again largely agreed upon, until really the 19th century, when liberal humanism challenged the historic consensus. They largely attacked the authority of the Scripture. But due to critical theories of inspiration, canonicity etc., they also made an assault on the clarity of Scripture. Evangelicalism arose to counter this rooted in a return to a high view of Scripture.

Today, even the evangelical church is only partially aligned with church history on these subjects. The Charismatic wing of the Church elevates two sources of authority, personal and Scriptural revelation, often effective an attack on the authority and clarity of Scripture.

Evangelical Academics now often apply a two authority approach again, this time with secular science and the Scripture sitting on equal footing. This is considered necessary, because the Bible is not seen as clear enough or Authoritative in matters if history and science.

“The early church,” Allison demonstrates, “was united in its conviction that nothing could be considered true unless it could be demonstrated from the Bible” (144). However “as the third millennium of the Church begins, evangelicals are faced with an important debate about the sufficiency of Scripture” (161). Will we apostacize, or reform?

I hate Him, and I Pray God Slay Him!

  What do you think about the “other” side?  Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). The Psalmist writes:“Do I not hate. . . I hate them with a perfect hatred” (Psalm 139:21-22).

Though this Psalm is not considered one of the Psalms of malediction, or curse, or imprecation, it expresses a strong sentiment regarding hatred, which reflects some of the responses in a society that has just watched a contentious election. How should the believer now pray in response to what he or she might consider an “evil” outcome in the election, or against the “evil” people who sought to stymie the good outcome of the election? Shall the believer pray, “let an accuser [Hb. Satan] stand at his right hand. . . let his prayer be accounted as sin. . . Let his children be fatherless. . . Let curses come upon him” (Psalm 109:6, 7, 8, 9, 17)?

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Church History: Old Answers to New Crises

What do you think about the idea of ordination, in pastoral (or other) church ministries? How would you go about thinking about the idea? What do you thing about the ordination of women, in pastoral (or other) church ministries? How would you go about investigating this idea.

Readers of this blog should know that the contributors are convinced “that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice (Matthew 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12-13; 17:17; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21). ” That means that the answers to this question have to boil down, in the last analysis, to discovering how the Bible answers this question. Continue reading

Thoughts on the Leadership Crises of Today’s World

When you think about business, political and church leaders, what comes immediately to mind? Is is humility? Is it service? Is it integrity?

The Harvard Business Review, describes today’s world as being in a leadership crises: “People clamor for direction, while you are faced with a way forward that isn’t at all obvious. Twists and turns are the only certainty” (link).

John MacArthur has written: “The world is crying out for leaders–great heroic, noble, trustworthy leaders. We need leaders at every level of social order–from political leaders in the international realm to spiritual leaders in the church and the family” (The Book on Leadership, 4).

Where can this desperate need be answered? There are hundreds and hundreds of books on leadership available today. Many of them aptly define the problems we face. But if any of them actually provided the solution, people would not be having this discussion any longer. Continue reading

What’s Equal Anyhow?

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All (wo)men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain (in)alienable rights, as we all know… or are they?

One of the great principles in Scripture was penned by Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote: “All men are created equal” (Genesis 1:27). To the modern ear this archaic phrase (and likely even some of the sentiment behind it) will not fully be appreciated. In the context of the times the “it is clear that ‘all men’ was a euphemism for ‘humanity’” (Library of Congress “official commentary on the declaration of independence”: link).

If humanity is indeed created equally in the image of God, “male and female”, then is it not an inalienable right of every woman to share with men in the privilege and responsibility of Kingdom work? How could an equal be debarred from a position of leadership with her male counterpart?

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Baptism the Sacrament of Faith, Memorial of the Covenant or Ordinance of Christ?

Baptism. Jesus did it. Should you? What does it mean if you do? What happens when you do an inductive study of Baptism in the New Testament? Does it stimulate you to take a more robust view of the ordinance? Does it cause you to see it as less important than it has been in for you? Does it affirm or challenge your default position?

Augustine called baptism sacramentum Fidei (sacrament of faith). This became the standard definition for over a thousand years. The Latin word sacramentum speaks of an oath of fidelity, such as is given by a soldier when inducted into the military, or a legal pledge.

Baptism was seen in early in Church history as the pledge of a clean conscience toward God, and an oath to submit to the Lord Jesus and follow him in the fellowship of his Church. Continue reading

Olympic Faith: Beliefs that Drive Action

Ryan Lochte is a top swimmer from the US and a favorite to win multiple medals at this London 2012 Olympic games. When he lost the 200M Freestyle event, the commentators tried to explain what went wrong. One concluded: “maybe his head just wasn’t in the game”.

Thought and Action: Christianity has been on the decline in the West recently. Several people have attempted to “right the ship” as it were. It has become very popular to argue that the issue is “dead orthodoxy”. The idea is we have all kinds of people who tow the party line and believe the right things, but it has no impact on their lives and the hypocrisy has been the driving force behind the decline of the faith. It is said that orthopraxy (right living) is more important than orthodoxy (right believing). This sort of statement presupposes that the two orthos can in fact be separated. But perhaps the Olympics can stimulate us to look at this issue once again.

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Can a Gentile be Saved?

Paul writes to Gentile (non Jewish) believers a powerful warning which should drive us to gratitude and humility. He explains that for the present time, Israel has been set aside and salvation has come to the Gentiles (myself and likely you):

[17] But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, [18] do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. [19] Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” [20] That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. [21] For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. [22] Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (Romans 11:17-22 ESV)

This warning makes little sense to those who have no sense of wonder at the fact that a Gentile could be saved at all. It makes no sense to those who think God is obligated to save them. Continue reading