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On Being Reformed Or, Why I am neither Evangelical nor Emerging

September 22, 2016 Leave a comment

Stefan T. Lindblad

Pastor, Trinity Reformed Baptist Church (Kirkland, WA); 2002 Graduate of WSC/IRBS

The landscape of twenty-first century Christianity becomes more complex by the day, or so it would seem. One of the major reasons for such complexity (or, better, confusion) is the recent ecclesiastical phenomena known as the emerging church, labeled as such because its adherents profess to be emerging out of the supposedly moribund and modernity-riddled ways of twentieth century evangelicalism. Despite the difficulty of actually defining postmodernism, emerging church pundits contend that, in the wake of postmodernity’s phoenix-esque rise from the ashes of modernity, the church – regardless of theological commitments or denominational boundaries – must be the spiritual equivalent of a butterfly and emerge out of the cocoon of modern ways of communicating the Christian faith (specifically those of fundamentalism and evangelicalism), speaking instead the language of postmodernity in order to reach postmoderns. The church must simultaneously appropriate the apostolic faith and speak this gospel in an “authentic” or “genuine” (read, postmodern) manner to satisfy adequately the spiritual taste-buds of those who live and move and have their being in a postmodern world.

As a minister of a confessional Reformed Baptist Church – and up until this point, little more than a casual observer of this current trend – I have read a few proponents of the emerging church movement only to walk away wondering if they have ever heard of anything other than evangelicalism or fundamentalism. That is, do they believe that their “postmodern” version of Christian spirituality is the only viable alternative to those “modern” forms proffered by evangelicalism? And if so, what happens when postmodernity collapses, or when (not if) postmodernity morphs and becomes something other than what it is at this very moment? Must the church morph as well? If not, what will fill the spiritual and ecclesiastical void that remains? Let me suggest that there is another, better, way than what the emerging church is attempting to offer us: the Reformed faith.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

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Why I Lovingly Push Reformed Theology

February 18, 2016 Leave a comment

By William F. Leonhart III

Periodically, an article is published to which I am compelled to respond. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to respond with nastiness or even direct disagreement. A response is not a reaction. The following article is an attempt at a friendly response to an article published today over at RAANetwork. The goal here is not to discredit the article or punch holes in its reasoning. My goal isn’t even to correct anything I believe to be improperly stated. Rather, my goal here will be to offer an alternative viewpoint, or perhaps to approach the subject from a bit of a different angle.

Defining Our Terms

Many well-intentioned articles have been written to persuade Reformed Christians to go easy—fly under the radar—in the discussion over Calvinism and non- (or anti-) Calvinism. Let us take a moment before diving into this discussion ourselves to discuss some important definitions. It’s important that we all understand from the outset that, when we say someone is Reformed or Calvinistic, we don’t all mean the same thing. Some equate Reformed Theology with Calvinism. Others recognize that Calvinism has come to be defined in Evangelicalism as a much different thing from Reformed Theology. For the purposes of this article, I will be using the two terms to describe two different, but related, concepts.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Can R. Scott Clark be Truly Reformed?

February 8, 2016 2 comments

By Brandon Adams

In a recent episode of the Calvinist Batman podcast, R. Scott Clark talks about Covenant Theology and Reformed Identity. My last post was a critique of his covenant theology. Here I just want to make a comment about his attitude towards reformed identity. Generally speaking, I can agree with much of what he says and I appreciate his emphasis on adhering to a confession of faith. However…

Speaking of theonomy, he says

The essence of theonomy is that the law of God, without distinguishing between civil, ceremonial, and moral, is still in force. Greg Bahnsen spoke about the abiding validity of the law of God in exhaustive detail. The great problem with that way of speaking is it’s flatly contrary to the way we speak in the reformed confessions, particularly, for example, in Westminster Confession 19.4, where we say “To them” that is, national Israel, “also as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws” now watch this, comma, ready? “which” the sundry judicial laws – did what? – “expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other now further than the general equity thereof may require.”

So I always say to my theonomic friends, “What don’t you understand about expired?”

[…]

It’s sort of a demonstration as to how unmoored we’ve become to the confession, that we have this debate about theonomy. I mean, in a way, we could have ended, and should have ended the whole debate with theonomy by saying, “Well, ok, we get that you don’t believe Westminster 19.4. Fine. Go away. You’re not reformed.” But tragically, because theonomists make a lot of noise, they’re visible. When you leave evangelicalism, it’s sort of one of the toll booths you have to go through to become reformed, is you have to pass through theonomy.

 

 

 
Read the entire article here.

No Creed But the Bible?

November 2, 2015 1 comment

John Piper was asked by a podcast listener if he subscribed to the 1689 Confession of Faith? Here are five points that he made against the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith:

 

 
Now here is the deal with the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. I didn’t choose to go that route, even though it is a good, solid, Reformed Baptist version of the Westminster Confession. And there are several reasons why. Here they are:

1) The language is somewhat foreign. Its vocabulary is like reading the King James Version. And I think it is probably a mistake to try to enshrine that today as the one if you expect families to use it without any updated form.

2) While I am able to affirm that Genesis 1 refers to literal 24-hour days, I had a hard time thinking that I should make that a matter of confessional faithfulness to Christianity, and so I stumbled over that section.

3) The understanding of the Sabbath is, perhaps, more rigorous and narrow than my understanding of the implications of Jesus’s teaching about the Sabbath.

4) There are certain historic categories of theology, like the covenant of works and others, that have proved useful, but you might wonder: Shall I make that the structure of the theology I am going to present?

5) This is going to sound so piddly — and yet you can’t be piddly in a confession — little things like saying that bread and wine are prescribed in the Lord’s Supper. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that wine was used in the Lord’s Supper. That comes as a shock to a lot of people. It doesn’t say that is what was used.

Now I suspect it was. I suspect it was wine, but it always uses the term cup or fruit of the vine and, therefore, if you get into a knock down battle and say we are going to settle this confessionally and you go to the 1689 Confession, it is going to say wine is what you are supposed to use. And I would say: Well, that is just unbiblical, because that is not what the Bible says, even though that is totally legitimate and maybe even preferable, but not at all required.

To read the entire audio transcript, click here.

To download the audio, click here.

 

 

My response to Piper:

1) The language of the1689 Confession is not foreign to the average reader of today. It is fairly simple in its explanation of the doctrines in which it confesses. That is not to say, that the average reader today, doesn’t need to study a little history of the Church because the confession does use certain words that affirm the truth, over and against the errors that tried to creep in during church history. But this is also true of the scriptures contained within Holy Writ. Unless one studies the historical setting of the Bible, then the reader will not grasp certain things in which the Bible states. So if, the average reader of today, struggles with the confession, then it is certain that they haven’t studied any church history and probably hasn’t studied any Biblical history. Of course, there are modern versions of the 1689 Confession, in modern language, and so Piper’s objection right here is absurd and ridiculous.

2) Piper has a hard time thinking that the 24 hours days of Genesis should by a matter of confessional faithfulness to Christianity. But why does he think that? Is he saying that whatever God states in scripture shouldn’t be a matter of confessional faithfulness to Christianity? To deny what God says in scripture is to deny scripture. Many, for the sake of not trying to look like the Bible is outdated or is ignorant concerning creation, have chosen to try and harmonize the scriptures with the obscure data of fallen man’s so-called science. Paul warned Timothy of this in 1 Timothy 6:20, whereby Paul said, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called…” So I say, if someone gets Genesis wrong, then they get all of scripture wrong. Genesis lays the foundation for the rest of Biblical revelation. And if you notice several of his remaining objections are points that can be cleared up by studying the book of Genesis.

3) Piper also has a problem with the 1689 on its doctrine concerning the Sabbath. Yet the Sabbath, is part of the Moral law, and is contained within the ten commandments. These ten commandments where given on Mt Sinai, and are the totality of what is contained in the moral law. However, these ten commandments were revealed before Mt Sinai when God wrote these commandments on the heart of man at creation. We see that most of these commandments were broken in Genesis and God judges those who broke them.

4) Piper also seems to have a problem with the covenant of works. Yet, if one does away with the covenant of works, then they do away with Christ’s sacrifice. What law did Christ fulfill? Why did Christ have to die in our place, if no covenant was broken? If you do away with the doctrine of the covenant of works, then you do away with justification.

5) Finally Piper has a problem with the 1689 because it speaks of wine being used in the Lord’s supper. He states that wine is unbiblical and that it was probably only the fruit of the vine which was used at the Lord’s supper. You would think that someone who was a Pastor for as many years as he was, that they would not be so ignorant concerning such a matter as this. The Lord’s supper took place between March and April, seeing that the Passover was a movable feast. The harvesting of grapes took place in late October. Now how does Piper propose that the Jews preserved grape juice for six months? Welch had not yet been born. Once new wine was bottled, it started the fermentation process.

The Threefold Use of the Law

October 28, 2015 2 comments

by R.C. Sproul

Every Christian wrestles with the question, how does the Old Testament law relate to my life? Is the Old Testament law irrelevant to Christians or is there some sense in which we are still bound by portions of it? As the heresy of antinomianism becomes ever more pervasive in our culture, the need to answer these questions grows increasingly urgent.

The Reformation was founded on grace and not upon law. Yet the law of God was not repudiated by the Reformers. John Calvin, for example, wrote what has become known as the “Threefold Use of the Law” in order to show the importance of the law for the Christian life.1

 

 

 

Read this short article here.

 

A Tribute to R.C. Sproul

September 21, 2015 2 comments

rcsproul.jpgMy comment: R. C. Sproul has been one of the primary factors in the resurgence of Reformed Theology in American Evangelicalism. I personally cut my teeth on Reformed Theology through the ministry of R. C. Sproul and can truly identify with much in this article. That being the case, I figured I would reblog this post, in order to pay tribute to R. C. Sproul.

 

by Nicholas T. Batzig

When I was a young boy, I distinctly remember sitting in the living rooms of various families of the churches we attended–watching VHS tapes of Dr. R.C. Sproul. At this time, that was an innovative way to be fed spiritually–to say the least. To have one of the great theologians of the 20th Century on your television in your living room was a big deal back then. Dr. Sproul was one of the first Reformed ministers to use VHS tapes when they were still somewhat untested and experimental mediums. Add to this the numerous R.C. Sproul cassette tapes that lay around our home. R.C. Sproul’s name and ministry was far from foreign in our family in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Tabletalk Magazine was also a common sight in the Batzig home. I would frequently see my mom carrying out her morning devotions with a Bible, Tabletalk Magazine and a cup of coffee. These are some of the early memories of the formative influence that R.C. Sproul had on me as a young boy.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

What is Covenant Theology?

June 11, 2015 1 comment

Covenant Theology

Introduction

What it is:

Covenant Theology is not a new understanding of Scripture; in fact, it is that system which God, in His divine providence, established to communicate His sacred Word to His chosen people throughout what we know as “redemptive history.” The difference between what the world calls “history” and what we call “redemptive history” is simply the fact that God is the Author of all history, and the ultimate goal – the eschatological culmination which our God has decreed He has been pleased to communicate to us by means of covenants.

The driving force behind revelation, and so Covenant Theology, is eschatology – eschatology precedes revelation – (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2) – The end of revelation, and so Covenant Theology, is also driven by eschatology, and is the renewal of all things, beginning with Christ, and having its completion is the ultimate salvation in the New Heavens and Earth where He gives us our glorified, sinless eternal bodies to go with the regenerate nature we received when we were saved – Romans 8:19-23; Ephesians 1:7-10; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; 2 Corinthians 2:4-5; Revelation 21-22). This makes the importance of Covenant Theology obvious. As we know all things are moved along by God’s decree (which is understood to have always existed unchangeably, as God does not change and is infinite and eternal – this is an eschatological statement, as well as a statement regarding God), it is through the revelational understanding of Covenant Theology that we are privileged to be given the comprehension of the outworking of that decree. In this sense, we may say that Scripture is the outworking of God’s covenantal dealings with those He created.

In other words, Covenant Theology is the system God imbedded in His Scriptures to show how we are to see and understand who He is, how He relates to His chosen people and those who are not……

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.