Month: January 2011

I Corinthians 7 – Next Sunday in Ammon, Idaho

We begin tackling I Corinthians 7 next Sunday morning.

My initial questions

Should a man get married? Should it be more than one companion?  What rights does the man have in a marriage?  What rights does a woman have?  When is it possible for a husband and wife to withhold physical intimacy from one another?  Should men and women stay single?  How is it good for unmarried and widows to remain single?  Are there any concessions for a divorce in marriage?  Are there any concessions for remarriage?  What about marriages where one of the spouses is an unbeliever?  What is the calling of God in your life?  How does the Lord want you to serve Him?  Concerning what Paul writes in I Corinthians 7, what is binding commandment and what is human advice?

Alan Johnson’s questions

Should I get married, especially if I want to wholeheartedly serve the Lord, perhaps as a missionary?  Can Christians marry nonChristians?  Does God approve of divorce under certain circumstances?  What are these circumstances?  If I divorce for a biblical reason, can I be remarried with God’s blessing?  Isn’t remaining single less than God’s best for us?  Can I marry with God’s blessing if my spouse has died?  If I have been divorced or widowed, would it be better for me remain unmarried?

Robert Gromacki’s questions 

1) Does the rise in Christian marriage seminars and in the publication of Bible-oriented marital books indicate that Christian marriages are failing?  2) Why have many Christians looked upon sex (its discussion and practice) as a taboo?  What can be done to overcome these prejudices? 3) Should the single life be promoted as much as the marital union?  In what circumstances would it be preferred?  In what circumstances would it prove awkward? 4) Have divorced and separated partners been discriminated against in evangelical churches?  Can they have an effective ministry?  5) Is remarriage after divorce Biblical?  Give a Biblical basis for your answer.  Since the evangelical world is divided on the question, how dogmatic should a person be? 6) Have single men and single women been forced out of strategic opportunities for Christian service?  Would it be preferable for a pastor to be single or married? 7) What present situations would correspond to the cause of the Corinthian distress?

God Is An Absolute Personality – God Is Creator

This book is pretty cool – The Doctrine of the Word of God (Vol. 4, 2010) by John M. Frame (lecture outline)

The author comes right out of the opening gate declaring thus:

The biblical God is the supreme being of the universe–eternal, unchangeable, infinite.  He is self-existent, self-authenticating, and self-justifying.  He depends on no other reality for his existence, or to meet his needs.  In these senses he is absolute.  But he is not only absolute.  He is also personal, and absolute personality.

Further, the biblical God is not only personal, but tripersonal.  His self-love, for example, in Scripture is not based on the model of a narcissist, an individual admiring himself (though God would not be wrong to love himself in that way).  Rather, his self-love is fully interpersonal: the Father loving the Son, the Son loving the Father, and the love of both embracing the Holy Spirit and his own love for them.  God is for us the supreme model not only of personal virtues, but of interpersonal ones as well.

Other religions and philosophies honor absolute beings, such as the Hindu Brahman, the Greek Fate, Aristotle’s Prime Mover, Hegel’s Absolute.  But none of these beings are personal.  They do not know or love us, make decisions, make plans for history.  Significantly in our present context, they do not speak to us.

Other religions and philosophies do honor personal gods, as with the polytheisms of Canaan, Greece, Egypt, Babylon, India, and modern paganism.  Yet none of these personal gods are absolute.  Only in biblical religion is the supreme being an absolute personality.  Only in biblical religion does the supreme being speak.  And only in biblical religion is the speaking God absolute, a being who, signficantly, needs nobody or nothing outside himself to validate his speech.

Consider the immense significance of the fact that the Creator of heaven and earth, who sovereignly governs all the affairs of the universe, actually knows, befriends, even loves human beings–and that he speaks to us.

There are, of course, other religions that approach the biblical idea of an absolute personal God.  These include Islam, Judaism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormonism.  These present themselves as believing that the supreme being is an absolute person.  I believe this claim is inconsistent with other things in these religions.  Certainly, none of these religions embraces the absolute tripersonality of biblical theism.  But my present point is that even in these religions the claim to believe in an absolute personal God arises from the Bible.  For all these religions are deeply influenced by the Bible, though they have departed from it in many ways (pp. 8-9).

A pretty good way to start, eh?  So what do you think of his observation with Mormonism?

He goes on with the next topic – God is the Creator.

God, the absolute tripersonality, is related to the world in terms of the Creator-creature distinction.  He is absolute, and we are not.  Cornelius Van Til expressed this distinction in a diagram with a large circle (God and a small one under it (the creation).  God and the world are distinct from each other.  The world may never become God, nor can God become a creature.  Even in the person of Christ, in which there is the most intimate possible union between God and human nature, there is (according to the formulation of the Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451) no mixing or confusion of the two natures.  In the incarnation, God does not abandon or compromise his deity, but takes on humanity.  In salvation, we do not become God; rather, we learn to serve him as faithful creatures.

At the same time, the Creator and creature are not distant from each other.  This, too, is evident from the person of Christ, in which deity and humanity are inseparable, though distinct.  Indeed, the Creator is always present to his creatures.  The most important thing about any creature is its relation to the Creator.  The creature’s life, in every respect, at every moment, is possible and meaningful only because of that relationship.  In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

It’s a nice warm up to the doctrine of bibliology.  Don’t you think?  In light of celebrating the 400 year tradition of the King James Bible, I would ask you to consider reading this book by John Frame.  I guarantee it will challenge your thinking on the Bible.  I think it might be one of the best books that I will read about the Bible in this new year.

The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life

I started and finished reading this little book last night.

For getting to the heart of American contemporary spirituality, Glenn Beck and Keith Ablow hit pay dirt.  This book is a gold mine for tapping in to your own autonomous, spiritual vibes.  It is American “common sense” after the vein of Thomas Jefferson.  You can apply your own common sense to any beliefs about a literal hell.  You can apply your own common sense to a spiritual odyssey with a Higher Being.  In fact, you can apply your own common sense to how you might treat any religious covenant in America.

It is common sense gospel – the American, conservative, inclusive way for all seekers in 2011.

So after 400 years of gospel change declared through the King James Version of the Bible to the English people of the world, does Beck and Ablow’s book contain biblical conclusions for change? 

God forbid.

By their book, Beck and Ablow are trumpeting the scripture words, “You are the temple of God” (I Cor. 3:16, and also 6:19), while divorcing the nation’s readers from the uniqueness of the Triune nature of God, the salvific power of the cross, and the verbal inspiration of God’s Word touched upon in chapters 1 and 2.

Let’s allow scriptural revelation to redeem our God-given but fallen reasoning.

Glenn Beck has been through a lot of tough and humbling experiences.  But I fear for him.  Even though he is wildly successful in today’s culture with so many prized characteristics:  drug-free, alcohol-free, beautiful family, high morals, hard working, funny, wealthy, patriotic, and on and on – I fear that he is listening to American wisdom and standing in the wisdom of men and not in the power of God.

What American engulfed in his or her own common sense will accept the idea that God is altogether unique from us?  What American swamped in personal reasonings and justifications accepts the idea of original sin?  What American accepts the Creator God’s just and eternal retribution for creaturely rebellion?  And is it the American common sense way to let a vile criminal experience not only pardon but a full glorification and exaltation because of substitutionary atonement?

It would only be an American heart awakened by the Spirit of God.  God is the wonder.  Not us.

He who glories, let him glory in the LORD (the climax of the first chapter of I Corinthians)

Gospel Truth or Gospel Lie?

Dear brothers of Galatia, we greet you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!  We have heard how through the ministry of Brother Paul you have been converted from the worship of dumb idols to serve the true and living God of Israel.  We are glad you have made such a good beginning, but we are afraid that there are some very important things about the gospel Paul has omitted to tell you.  We ourselves come from church at Jerusalem which is directed by the very apostles Jesus called and ordained.  Paul though is an upstart.  Why, he never even knew Jesus while he was on earth and was certainly never commissioned by him as an apostle.  True, Paul did visit Jerusalem just after he stopped persecuting us, and there he learned the ABCs of the Christian faith from the true apostles.  But the message he now preaches bears no resemblance to theirs.  I don’t imagine he even told you about circumcision!  Why, this is the very way God has made it possible for you Gentiles to become a part of the New Israel.  Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.  Circumcision is just as important as baptism–nay, more important, for it will introduce you to a higher plan of Christian living.  If you will observe this holy ordinance of the law, God will be pleased with you.  We are just now forming a new association of law-observant churches, and we would love for Galatia to represented!  We are true Christians.  Jesus, our great example, pleased the Father by fulfilling the law and so can you!”

If our church family were to receive this letter, I would throw it in the trash.

LDS Culture

This post makes me feel right at home in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Though I would be interested in delving sometime into the fine nuances, for instance looking at a humorous comparison and contrast between Rexburg, Idaho culture and Provo, Utah culture.

Jerry Root, Chronicles of Narnia Movies, and a growing god

Did you catch the article in World (December 18, 2010) about the Chronicles of Narnia films?

This little section stood out to me:

In an interview earlier this year, Dr. Jerry Root, who teaches Lewis at Wheaton College, complained, “The worst element in Prince Caspian was when Lucy sees Aslan for the first time on her return to Narnia.  In the book she exclaims, ‘Aslan, you’re bigger!’  Aslan responds, ‘I am not.  But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.’  In the movie, this was seriously compromised to, ‘Aslan, you’ve grown!’ Aslan replies, ‘Every year you grow, so shall I.’  It is a horrible compromise of Lewis and really bad theology.”

I agree.