Monthly Archives: October 2013

Diligence in Theology

Theology is controversial (you are making statements about God, anthropology, origin of the universe, morality and ethics, etc.), such that it is easy to be misunderstood. If you are going to speak-theology, then you need to put forth your best effort to do so with clarity, i.e., as the idiom goes,  you need to wax eloquent. However, if you’re going to listen to someone, you too have a duty to be fair and charitable and put forth an effort to understand them in the best light possible.

Theology is controversial and it is hard work (it requires diligence), e.g., one ought to be nuanced when discussing faith and obedience (works).

Needing to speak with clarity regarding faith and obedience can be illustrated in the writings of William Ames, Puritan born in England in the late 1500s. In his writings, Ames emphasized the “will” of the Christian. He was passionate about maintaining the kinship between Christian thought and action. Because of this emphasis on the “will” of Christians, some (i.e., Kuyper, Kendall) argued that Ames departed “from the mainstream of Reformed Theology” (Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology – Doctrine for Life, 54). This, however, is not an accurate portrayal, as Beeke and Jones contend, Ames was well within the mainstream of Reformed Theology, but to gather this you must consider the covenantal framework within which Ames emphasized the role of the “will” of Christians.

But Ames, as a faithful son of the Reformation, continued to emphasize that “the final dependence of faith, as it designates the act of believing, is on the operation and inner persuasion of the Holy Spirit” ([The Marrow of Theology] 1.3.12.). . . . The key to properly combining sovereign grace with freely given faith and responsible obedience was to be found in the context of God’s covenant. Under the covenant of grace, Ames expounded the harmony of faith and obedience, the gospel of Christ and the Ten Commandments, orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Rather than isolating Ames’s statements about the will and crying “voluntarism,” we must interpret each of his teachings in the light of his whole theology — a Reformed theology of heart religion and humble obedience” (54-55)

Theological statements never occur within a vacuum – they always occur within a context that also needs to be examined and accounted for in order to understand the theological statements. Understanding a person’s theology, like most things worth doing, takes effort and requires hard work. Like the philosopher Spinoza said, “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.”


“Our relationship to God – that we can boldly come to God saying “Our Father” – is due to God’s choice of us, rather than our choice of God. God’s choice of us is a gift that we often speak of in the church as “grace” – amazing grace. It’s amazing particularly in a culture in which we are taught to believe that anything important is earned, achieved, worked for. Yet faith in Jesus as Lord can only come as a gift” (William H. Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas, Lord, Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer and the Christian Life, 26).

On God Being “Our” Father

“We say ‘Our’ because of the astounding recognition that this God, the one who created the universe and flung the planets into their courses, the great God of heaven and earth, has willed to become our God. Before we reached out to God, God reached out to us and claimed us, promised to be our God, promised to make us God’s people. Thus, not because of what we are or what we have done, but rather because of what God in Jesus Christ has done, we are privileged to say, ‘Our Father'” (William H. Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas, Lord, Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer and the Christian Life, 25).

Friday “How To Video” at Tree & The Seed: “How To” Create Demand for and Fund Death/Abortion Quotas

From the Alliance Defending Freedom website:

Abortion generates up to half of all of the income from the services at Planned Parenthood. In 2011 They committed 333,964 abortions which generated a minimum of $150 million. To continue to drive this revenue, they enforce abortion quotas which require all affiliates to conduct abortions. This is why 92% of pregnant women who go to Planned Parenthood get an abortion.

Alliance Defending Freedom is litigating lawsuits to protect the unborn, and restrict Planned Parenthood’s ability to do abortions until we drive them out of the abortion business.


Discussing her personal departure from feminism, Carolyn McCulley, in her book, Radical Womanhood, says:

The light of God’s Word showed me truth. What I thought as right and true didn’t hold up to Scripture. Human observation and psychology could only point out a problem – proud women spar with men they deem to be weaker and not worthy of respect – but offered no credible solution to the tension between the sexes.

I didn’t need to reconcile my pantheon of inner goddesses. I needed to repent of my sin.

As do men.

The kicker is that feminism is partially right. Men do sin. They can diminish women’s accomplishments and limit women’s freedoms for self-centered reasons. Some men sexually assault women. Some men abuse their wives and children. many men degrade women through pornography. Feminism didn’t rise up because of fabricated offenses (25-26).

 So true. Feminism (and her best friend Egalitarianism)  did not rise up due to “fabricated offenses”. Sinful men who lord over women are meatheads and blockheads. To rip off the song from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, “Your brain is full of spiders, you’ve got garlic in your soul, Mister [Blockhead]. / I wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole.”

If you want a high-view of women, then you need look no further than Genesis. Adam is a type of Christ, he is the federal-head that represents all of mankind, and he is placed in a garden-sanctuary. In this garden-sanctuary Adam has prophet-priest-king duties to fulfill. However, it is not good that Adam be alone, so God blesses Adam and gives him Eve. In Genesis 2:18 we learn that Eve was created to sustain Adam by a covenant-of-companionship that would eliminate Adam’s loneliness. Eve is Adam’s “helpmeet” – although “help” isn’t the best translation, since the Hebrew ‘ezer kenegdo connotes coming alongside another in order to actively sustain and assist, i.e., “helpmeet” = “sustainer beside him” (see Robert Alter, Genesis, 9). Also, Proverbs 31 describes a woman as a heroic, domestic warrior (see conclusion from sermon notes by Peter Leithart). A woman does much more than “help” – according to the Bible she is much, much more than an auxiliary to man. If you don’t have a Biblical view of women, then, as McCulley reminds herself and her readers, you need to repent of your sin.

Once-for-Allness of Atonement

“It is indeed highly necessary to recognize the continued high priestly activity of Christ in heaven. . . . We must distinguish between the offering of sacrifice and the subsequent activity of the high priest. What the New Testament stresses is the historical once-for-allness of the sacrifice that expiated guilt and reconciled to God (cf. Heb 1:3; 9:12, 25-28). To fail to assess the finality of this once-for-allness is to misconceive what atonement really is” (John Murray, Redemption – Accomplished and Applied, 54).

Puritan Hermeneutics and Exegesis

Excerpt from the conclusion to the second chapter (“Puritan Hermeneutics and Exegesis”) in A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life by Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones.

Thus, their [Puritan authors like John Owen, Thomas Goodwin, John Howe, Stephen Charnock, etc.] covenantal reading of the Bible, whereby history is divided into two basic covenants (i.e., works and grace) meant that they were consciously reading the Scriptures with a Christ-centered lens, which was seen in their use of typology and, at times, allegory. They rejected the many “sense” of Scripture (i.e., the so-called quadriga), but their writings certainly show that they were often keen to press home the “fuller sense” of certain passages, which may have multiple layers of meanings and was a legitimate application of the literal meaning (sensus literalis). Their view that the Scriptures were internally consistent and that most theological truths had to be gathered out of more than one place in the Bible made the basic principles of the analogy of faith and “good and necessary consequence” [WCF. I.] an indispensable part of their hermeneutic. These principles of interpretation are important, but if reason alone tries to make sense of the mystery of the gospel, a Christian will forever run into error and heresy. Only a Spirit-wrought, supernatural faith will allow a Christian to believe that God had a Son as old as Himself! And yet to come to formulate such a truth a host of interpretative techniques were required (40).