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Here are a few articles, which I have read recently, that I want to pass along to all of you.

Daniel’s Seventy Weeks and the New Exodus by Peter J. Gentry who is Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In this paper Gentry explores the meaning of the seventy weeks found in Daniel chapter 9.

Do We Act As If We Really Believe That “The Bible Alone, And The Bible In Its Entirety, Is The Word Of God Written”? by Wayne Grudem who is Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. He delivered this paper as a presidential address during the 51st annual meeting of the ETS on November 17, 1999. This is a very important article for anyone studying theology on a higher level. In the paper Grudem gives six suggestions to biblical scholars who claim to believe that the Bible alone , and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God Written,

  • Suggestion #1: Consider the possibility that God may want evangelical scholars to write more books and articles that tell the Church what the whole Bible teaches us about some current problem.
  • Suggestion #2: Consider the possibility that God wants the Church to discover answers and reach consensus on more problems, and wants us to play a significant role in that process.
  • Suggestion #3: Consider the possibility that God wants evangelical scholars to speak with a united voice on certain issues before the whole Church and the whole world.
  • Suggestion #4: Consider the possibility that God may want many of us to pay less attention to the writings of non-evangelical scholars.
  • Suggestion #5: Consider the possibility that God may want us to quote his Word explicitly in private discussions and in public debates with non-Christians.
  • Suggestion #6: Consider the possibility that the world as we know it may change very quickly.

In the paper he explains the meaning of each suggestion.

Still Sola Scriptura: An Evangelical Perspective on Scripture by James M. Hamilton Jr. who Associate Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. A good article on the inerrancy of Scripture. Although, the bulk of the paper it seemed was dealing more with the Canon. What he did, however, have to say on the Canon was tremendous. If you wonder about the reliability of the Canon the facts given in this paper will aid you in becoming confident in it.

he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:22-23)

The gospel is such a treasure. We who were at one time far off have now been reconciled to God. Not because we tried really hard to get to God and finally did. But because God came to get us while we were still ungodly and wicked. And he came to get us by sacrificing himself upon the cross. Jesus, the Son of God, reconciled us by His death. And this death is “in order” to present us holy, blameless, and above reproach before him.

But this faith is not a stagnate claim of fire insurance.  We must “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast” to retain the benefits of it. That is the call, to “continue.” To keep going on and on along the same path, not stopping to some other distraction. We are to continue “stable and steadfast.” Not tripping over thoughts of “maybe I should try another road of beliefs.” No, our eyes are fixated in completing what we have set out to do. But what is this journey we are to remain stable and steadfast on? The answer for Paul is simple, “the hope of the gospel.” the gospel message of Christ’s reconciling ministry is to be the road of their faith which they continue in, stable and steadfast, without shifting.

So to the gospel is the root of our assurance. The hope of what is ours in Christ is the rock of our salvation. When our sins and failures amass before our eyes, and other gospels present themselves before us, we are to continue in the hope! I don’t know about you but when I start to think God is distant because of my sins other gospels come to me. “read the word more. pray more. make sure to reduce the amount of sin your life by 5% in the coming month. etc” But these are not the one gospel which I heard. The gospel of Christ’s work, reconciling me to God as a blameless, holy son, is the message that I am to remain steadfast.

So when doubts and questions about my salvation and standing with God come, I am to continue. Continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the gospel. Because the gospel is the source of my assurance.

Some really important facts to learn and understand about first century slavery,

“In the first century, slaves were not distinguishable from free persons by race, by speech or by clothing; they were sometimes more highly educated than their owners and held responsible professional positions; some persons sold themselves into slavery for economic or social advantage; they could reasonably hope to be emancipated after ten to twenty years of service or by their thirties at the latest; they were not denied the right of public assembly and were not socially segregated (at least in the cities); they could accumulate savings to buy their freedom; their natural inferiority was not assumed.”

—Murray Harris, Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ, NSBT (IVP , 44.)

HT: Justin Taylor

I came across these two albums over at Brian Moss’s site. The first one is him singing songs inspired by Psalms 1 through 15. You can download the songs here.

The second one is call Sweet Sacrifice, as described on the site, “Sweet Sacrifice touches on the themes of lament, loss, slavery and freedom in worship songs created for

Lent. Seattle-based artists Molly McCue, Kurt Dyrhsen and Brian Moss collaborate with longtime Christian artist Michael Card on this project.” You can receive the instructions for downloading it here. (Do note: you have to download it through iTunes. The site though gives adequate instruction from there.)

I have not listened to all the songs on each album. So I cannot at this point give a complete thumbs up to everything. But from what I have listen to, so far, they seem really good. And they are free! One cannot beat that.

One CD from Brian I have had for a while is his one called “Not What My Hands Have Done.” You will have to purchase it off iTunes for $9.99. But I have had it for a few years now and have greatly enjoyed it. The lyrics are tremendous and sound quality is great. You can get it off iTune here or the CD here.

Paul Helm touches on an all too prevalent problem in theological study. The area of academia which he is concerned with in his post is philosophy. But he himself say that the problem is in other disciplines of study. And I concur that it is very prevalent in theological studies. The problem: fashion. Paul Helm explains,

When we think of fashion, we may think of clothes, and hair-dos, (When I said to someone that I was going to talk about fashion in the Chapel, she said ‘Then I’d better be careful what I wear!’), and music, and so on. But fashion reaches further, into the life of the mind. There are fashions of the mind as well as of the body. And besides the legitimate philosophical interest in ideas and arguments, there is also the interest in novelty for its own sake. I said earlier that when he told us about the Athenians, Luke was simply reporting the activity of serious men. But maybe, come to think of it, he had this idea of intellectual fashion in mind. To coin a phrase, the Athenian philosophers, besides being serious men, were also dedicated followers of fashion.

That was the point that for a long time I did not grasp. The point that the life of the mind does not only consist of disinterested enquiries after the truth, but is also subject to the vagaries of what is ‘in’, and what is ‘out’. Perhaps it is this side of things that Paul meant when, a little later on after his encounter with the Athenians, he wrote of ‘the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind’. Not just the desires of the flesh, but desires of the mind; and no doubt one sort of such desire is the itch for something new, not necessarily the idea that what is newest is best, but that what is newest is most interesting and engaging.

The problem is the craving for something new, something fresh, to sink one’s mind into. One is going about their business, holding on to the same old beliefs, then all of a sudden theological idea version 2.3 comes out on the market of ideas. It is intriguing, thought provoking, rough and smooth all at the same time. How cool is that!

The only problem? You just have to destroy the foundation of an orthodoxy belief to gain it.  And I find so many biting on to the bait. What is new is so more appealing to the eye than what is tried and true. The orthodox beliefs become stale while the disease ridden beliefs come fresh out of the oven.

Dr. Helm continues about the problem,

This is the fact that it is typical of philosophers, and not only of philosophers, but of proponents of other academic disciplines too, and of human nature more generally, to look, beyond the arguments, for something new. There is academic tiredness. Positions become well worn, and then worn out. There is nothing more to say: no papers to write, no seminars to be arranged, the topic, or issue, or person is played out, exhausted.

That is the danger with the gospel we have been entrusted with and doctrines there in. It becomes, “worn out” so to speak. There is nothing of interest left in it. So, naturally, the newest idea to come off the presses becomes the new way to understand our beliefs. If these ideas push us out of orthodox…oh well, the orthodox was kind of boring any way.

Dr. Helm also points out an intriguing fact , even if the arguments for the new ideas are poor ones, we will accept the new. The desire for “fashionable” beliefs will cause us to look over the logical and biblical problems with the new ideas.

Some examples of this come to mind. The first thing that comes to mind is the whole Postmodern sensation that came through academia and the church. Though it still around some sectors it has become a distant memory for most. I remember the big craze with Mclaren, Tony Jones (for the churches) and Stanely Grenz (for the scholars). All the talk of blogs and podcasts back then (two years ago), now, “Tony who?” In the academic realm only a few still hold on to it. The fad was big, and now is nothing. Fashion struck hard and fast.

What about the arguments and orthodoxy? Dr. Helm’s words prove so true. Postmodern thoughts completely excavated the foundation for orthodoxy. That was clearly demonstrated by the descending theological development the leaders. Though, one could just think about what they were saying and know right where the beliefs would go. I remember reading Grenz’s beliefs about theology of the community and knowing nothing good would come of it. (In short, Grenz would say that each community has their own theological beliefs and there is no authority to determine which theological ideas are right or wrong. Thus, each community should just be faithful to their beliefs). And the arguments for what they believe? Simple, just ignore everything the Bible says about the nature of truth. And if anyone ever points it out, simply move the discussion to something else and hope they don’t come back to the truth point. a clear demonstration of having poor reasons for holding a poisoned belief.

The pull of fashion, no doubt, played a big part in the growth of such ideas. Were there other reasons? Sure, there was other reasons people locked on to these things. But the pull of fashion is a very strong pull in such matters. I can even remember proponents of postmodern theology using the language of, “the old has run its course, now we need something new.” New ideas are the apparent savior.

That is just one example of many. As one who is studying theological ideas I can see the idol of “fashion” come up in many different areas. Many new fads pop-up, gain a big following, and then die down. All in an attempt to find something new and fresh.

What can be said to all this?

1. The temptation to fashion is not a new problem. Another Paul saw the dangers of this as well and so warned a young pastor,

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you. (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

God doesn’t waste words. He knows what the temptations of those who study doctrine are.  Timothy didn’t need to go from new idea to new idea but instead needed to guard the deposit of knowledge he had been entrusted with.

2. This problem is a good reminder to the fact that we are not just creatures of logic and arguments, we are more. God has made us creatures of affection! Arguments will only drive us so far. But desires will push us to the end of ourselves. We all know people who will have the most pathetic reasons for their actions. Why can’t they be argued out of their ways? Because they want to do it. We are creatures of desire. That is why people with Ph.D. will take foolish stances on issues that destroy the root of the faith they espouse. There is a greater desire, than faithfulness to Christ, driving them.

3. Thus, we must remember that the problem with fashion is a problem with idolatry. The idol of fashion has been raised in the place of Christ. As long as the idol is there the person will follow it. Follow it to every theological position it takes them, no matter how God dishonoring, church destroying, brethren harming and foolish it is.

4. The answer to all this is that what we need to be above, below, and on every side of all rigorous theological study is a heart of loving enjoyment of the person of Jesus and the gospel He gave us. A heart that loves Jesus and the gospel he proclaims is not infatuated with the “new” fashion. When Jesus is no longer a concept to be batted around in one’s head, but a person who looked upon all your wretched sinfulness with compassion, then you become well satisfied with the old ideas.

With number 4. Firmly in place, then we can engage in good theological discussion. Do hear me say that not everything new is wrong due to the fact that it is new. There is a place to come to a new understanding about things which are not the heart of Christianity. However, we must walk in Christ, rooted and built up in him and be established in the faith, (Colossians 2:6-7). Once that happens we can rightfully and happily think deeply about the things of God and can discover things about Him we did not know.

Though the Earth cried out for blood
Satisfied her hunger was
Her billows calmed on raging seas
for the souls on men she craved

Sun and moon from balcony
Turned their head in disbelief
Their precious Love would taste the sting
disfigured and disdained

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

So three days in darkness slept
The Morning Sun of righteousness
But rose to shame the throes of death
And over turn his rule

Now daughters and the sons of men
Would pay not their dues again
The debt of blood they owed was rent
When the day rolled a new

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke holding keys
To Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

He has cheated
Hell and seated
Us above the fall
In desperate places
He paid our wages
One time once and for all

HT: Justin Taylor

Sorry for things being slow around here. I had a lot of work to do after I got back from Knoxville and so was unable to get right back to blogging. But hopefully things will be better next week.

From an interview with Vern Poythress:

Different people have had different conceptions of both biblical theology and systematic theology, so it is wise to ask what people mean in both areas, as well as to look at the relation between the two areas.

I would myself describe systematic theology as study of the Bible’s teaching in which we try to synthesize and then summarize what the Bible as a whole teaches about all kinds of topics—God, man, Christ, sin, salvation, and so on.

In some contexts the expression “biblical theology” simply means theology built on the Bible; that is, it is systematic theology done in the right way. But there is also another possible meaning. Biblical theology, as described by Geerhardus Vos, studies the Bible with a focus on its history, the history of revelation and of redemption. Whereas systematic theology is topically organized, biblical theology is historically organized. It looks at the progress of God’s work and his revelation through time. In addition, biblical theology more broadly conceived can study the themes that are distinctive to a particular book of the Bible, or to books written by a single human author (for example, Paul’s letters).

At their best, biblical theology and systematic theology interact and help to deepen one another.

Systematic theology provides doctrines of God’s sovereignty, of revelation, of God’s purposes, and of the meaning of history that supply a sound framework of assumptions for the work of biblical theology.

Biblical theology at its best deepens the appreciation that systematic theology should have for the way in which, in interpreting individual texts and in uncovering their relation to a whole topic, the context of texts within the history of redemption colors the interpretation. Biblical theology may also bring to light new themes that can be the starting point for systematic-theological explorations into new topics that can receive fuller attention. For instance, the theme of life and death as it develops in the course of the history of revelation can become the starting point for discussing ethical questions about modern medicine and the issue of euthanasia.

HT: Justin Taylor


each local church is not seen primarily as one member parallel to a lot of other member churches, together constituting one body, one church; nor is each local church seen as the body of Christ parallel to other earthly churches that are also the body of Christ—as if Christ had many bodies. Rather, each church is the full manifestation in space and time of the one, true, heavenly, eschatological, new covenant church. Local churches should see themselves as outcroppings of heaven, analogies of “the Jerusalem that is above,” indeed colonies of the new Jerusalem, providing on earth a corporate and visible expression of “the glorious freedom of the children of God.
~D. A. Carson, “Evangelicals, Ecumenism, and the Church,” 366.
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:41-42
_________________________

As we watch Jesus pray in agony in Gethsemane, He has every right to turn His tearful eyes toward you and me and shout, “This is your cup. Your’re responsible for this. It’s your sin! You drink it.” This cup should rightfully be thrust into my hand and yours

Instead, Jesus freely takes it Himself…so that from the cross He can look down at you and me, whisper our names, and say, “I drained this cup for you–for you who have lived in defiance of Me, who have hated Me, who have opposed Me. I drink it all..for you.”

Not only will He leave nothing in that cup of wrath for us to drink…but today you and I find ourselves with another cup in our hands. It’s the cup of salvation. From this precious new cup we find ourselves drinking and drinking–drinking consistently, drinking endlessly, drinking eternally…for the cup of salvation is always full and overflowing.

~C. J. Mahaney, Living the Cross Centered Life, p. 82

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