Friday, July 27, 2012

This Week in Calvinism - July 27, 2012

  • There is nothing arrogant in Calvinist theology, so why do Calvinists have a reputation of being arrogant? David French has some theories.

  • Dr. Brad Reynolds will "gladly affirm" that the belief that God foreordains men to evil is heretical, but he draws the line at calling all Calvinists heretical.

  • Dr. Michael A. Cox, in critiquing Calvinism, reads the accounts of Jeremiah and Jonah and comes away with a rather interesting view of God's sovereignty: "While God's nature never changes, nor does He repent in the human sense, His purposes, quite obviously, can be altered according to the moral and ethical decisions of man." So what does scripture mean when it refers to the "unchangeable character" of God's purpose (Hebrews 6:17)?

  • Join Tim Challies in reading The Discipline of Grace, by Jerry Bridges.

  • We cherish the doctrine of election, but, as John Piper points out, we must wield it with care.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God's Sovereignty Displayed in Aurora Shooting

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13).

Petra Anderson was at the Century Aurora 16 theater watching The Dark Knight Rises when James Holmes entered through an emergency exit door and opened fire. Petra was hit in the head with a shotgun blast.

Blogger Brad Strait relates the incident and tells how a unique birth defect saved young Petra's life:
Shooting victim Petra Anderson
It seems as if the bullet traveled through Petra's brain without hitting any significant brain areas. The doctor explains that Petra's brain has had from birth a small "defect" in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear. Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it.

But in Petra's case, the shotgun buck shot, maybe even the size used for deer hunting, enters her brain from the exact point of this defect. Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra's nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself. Like a giant BB though a straw created in Petra's brain before she was born, it follows the route of the defect. It is channeled in the least harmful way. A millimeter in any direction and the channel is missed. The brain is destroyed. Evil wins a round.
Strait does not come at this from a Reformed perspective, chalking it up to what he calls "prevenient grace: God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future." Still, it is an amazing story.

Friday, July 20, 2012

This Week in Calvinism - July 20, 2012

  • Romans 9? Oh, the focus is only on national election, not personal election. You just have to ignore that whole "though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of thim who calls" part. Actually, I always thought the focus was on God's sovereign choice in election, period.

  • Frank Turk reviews Killing Calvinism.

  • The acronym for hyper-Calvinism: TULIPY?

  • J. I. Packer has some advice for aspiring writers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Proven Weapons in the Fight for Holiness

Everything the world has to offer is based on a lie, leading to death and destruction. When we are confronted with temptation, it is important to remember that God has given us a vast arsenal of weapons with which we may defend ourselves. John Piper reminds us of a few:
1. "Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10)

I have slain more dragons in my soul with that sword than any other I think. It is a precious weapon to me.

2. "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).

How many times I have been persuaded in the hour of trial by this verse that the reward of disobedience could never be greater than "all things."

3. "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me . . . And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18, 20).

How many times have I strengthened my sagging spirit with the assurance that the Lord of heaven and earth is just as much with me today as he was with the disciples on earth!

4. "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me" (Psalm 50:15).

What makes this weapon so compelling is that God’s helping me is made the occasion of my glorifying him. Amazing arrangement. I get the help, he gets the glory!

5. "My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

The context is financial and material. But the principle is total. What we really need (not just want) will be granted. And what is need? Need is what we must have to do God’s will. What we must have to magnify our Savior. That is what we will be given as we trust him.

Be constantly adding to your arsenal of promises. But never lose sight of the chosen few that God has blessed in your life. Do both. Be ever-ready with the old. And every morning look for a new one to take with you through the day.

Monday, July 16, 2012

America: Ripe for Revival?

With all the depressing things in the news, it's easy to get discouraged. Best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg reminds us of the bright side:
The good news is that God has shown mercy to our country in the past. In the early 1700s we experience what became known as the first Great Awakening. In the early 1800s, we experienced the Second Great Awakening. These were massive, widespread, game-changing eras of spiritual revival. In 1770, for example, there were fewer than two dozen Methodist churches in America. By 1860, there were nearly 20,000. In roughly the same time frame, the number of Baptists went from under 200,000 to more than one million.

These revivals were not a panacea. They did not save every soul or solve every social ill. No revival ever has or will. But the good news is this: the historical evidence is clear and compelling that many Americans found salvation during these periods, and American society as a whole was dramatically impacted and improved by both of these revivals.

One piece of observable evidence in this regard is the explosive growth in the number of church congregations that were established in the wake of both Great Awakenings. At the same time, Christians during this period sought to put their faith into action to improve their neighborhoods and communities and the nation as a whole. They persuaded millions of children to enroll in Sunday school programs to learn about the Bible and pray for their nation. They opened orphanages and soup kitchens to care for the poor and needy. They started clinics and hospitals to care for the sick, elderly and infirm. They founded elementary and secondary schools for girls as well as boys. They established colleges and universities dedicated to teaching both the Scriptures and the sciences. They led social campaigns to persuade Americans to stop drinking so much alcohol and to abolish the evil of slavery. These Christians didn’t expect the government to take care of them. They believed it was the Church’s job to show the love of Christ to their neighbors in real and practical ways. They were right, and they made America a better place as a result – not perfect, but better.
We must remember that no matter how bad things get, God is still sovereign, even over these United States of America. Christ remains our hope for salvation.

"By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas" (Psalm 65:5).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Church-Hopping on the Rise

I'd like to think that the rise in church-hopping is due to people trying to find a Bible-based, gospel-preaching church, but somehow I doubt it:
Nondenominational congregations have continued to grow in recent decades, with close to 12.2 million adherents in the United States, ranking as the third-largest religious body, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. In Minnesota, nondenominational congregations are the fourth-largest religious body with 130,263 adherents.

[Scott] Thumma, the Hartford scholar, points to their growth as evidence of people's increased interest in not belonging to just one congregation.

"I think that whole consumer and individualistic impulse in our society has also lapsed over into our religious life," he said. "Our spiritual needs getting met means that I treat every religious community not as my traditional family ascribed to a religious identity but something that, 'Does it meet my needs? Does it have services when I need them? Does it have the kinds of Sunday school life I need to have?'"

"Denominational identities still exist and people still think of the differences. But in fact ... that is breaking down, the power of that identity to shape the person."

Friday, July 13, 2012

This Week in Calvinism - July 13, 2012

  • Fred Luther, newly elected president of the SBC, had this to say about the debate over Calvinism: "One of the things I can say with surety, I have no doubt the enemy is behind it all. ... I just believe that this may be an issue as other things have done in the past that the enemy has tried to divide brothers, divide churches, divide friends to keep our mind off the main thing."

  • Speaking of Calvinism in the SBC, Joel Borofsky believes the question facing the denomination isn't "'What did Southern Baptists believe 150 years ago,' but instead should be, 'What did Christians believe 2,000 years ago?'"

  • Tom Ascol reviews Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside.

  • Dr. E. S. Williams and friends, who claim to be reformed, hate what they call New Calvinism. Their site lists five features of New Calvinism:

    1. Doctrinal shallowness
    2. Loves the things of the world
    3. Profoundly ecumenical
    4. Social activism
    5. Low view of Scripture

    They conclude: "New Calvinism is a movement that is characterised by flippancy to holy things. It has no fear of God; it puts no difference between the holy and the profane." It seems they're painting with a brush broader than that wielded by most Arminians.

  • Meet John Calvin, John Knox, and many other Bearded Gospel Men.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Sermon to the Governor and Legislature of Idaho

In response to the Supreme Court's ruling on Obama's socialized health care plan, Doug Wilson preached this sermon focusing on the biblical role of government.

Friday, July 06, 2012

This Week in Calvinism - July 6, 2012

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

One Nation, Under God

Americans love to prattle on about our precious Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance, and how we are "one nation, under God." But the sad fact is that most of the noble, patriotic virtues we celebrate each Independence Day no longer exist, if they ever did at all.

As Christians, however, we can proclaim honestly that we are indeed one nation, under God: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

Let us keep that in mind, not just today but every day. Political leaders rise and fall, and nations will come and go, but "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Gospel in Two Minutes

What is the gospel? Rapper Trip Lee explains.

(via Desiring God)
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