Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Academic - A Biblical Philosophy of Pastoral Ministry

This was one of the best projects I ever had assigned to me in grad school. My professor told us that we needed to develop a pastoral philosophy from the Greek imperatives in the Pastoral Epistles. It was definitely a difficult project but has been one that has guided me ever since. The overarching theme of the paper is that a pastor is to be someone who teaches proper doctrine, lives a godly life, and is faithful in these things to the end. These areas should be what a church looks into first when calling a pastor. Click here to read it. Read More......

Friday, July 10, 2009

Academic - Constitutional Nature of Man

I have decided to post some of my research papers online. They will be on topics that are interesting but are either too long or too tedious to make into a series of posts.

My first topic is on the Conistiutional Nature of Man. It was a research paper I wrote for my Systematic Theology class. You can either go to my Links section or click here to read it. Read More......

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Faith in April Fool's Day

Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs had an interesting article about a man who broke up a robbery because he thought it was April Fool’s Day. Phillips brings out that if you were just watching the video camera at the bank you would have thought that this man was performing a feat of bravery.

Think of it. Why was Stewart so calm and so brave? Well, really, he was calm; but he wasn't brave, exactly, was he? Stewart was calm because of his faith. Stewart believed that it was all just an April Fool's hoax. No bravery required.

But here's the thing: he was wrong! He was just (what most folks would call) lucky. If there'd been a gun, we wouldn't be chuckling. Nor would Stewart.

Phillips goes on and ties this event in with James 2:14…

Say it's not Stewart we're watching without sound. It's you. It's me.

Can you tell what we believe, and why? The things we spend the most time on, feel the most strongly about, invest the most of ourselves in — what do they say about our faith? Our priorities, our goals, our rules of engagement — looking at them, what do we believe?

Do we live boldly, confidently, riskily, like people who believe they have a loving, giving, kind, sovereign Father who has dealt fully and finally with all their sins, forever, in Christ? Think of the roll-call of faith in Hebrews 11, and the amazing feats accomplished by people who really, truly believed in the Word of God. Do we live like people who believe that His word is our law, for our thoughts and choices and affections?

Phillips definitely brings up some interesting points. I would like to amplify one point he makes at the end of the post. Faith is not just belief; biblical faith is belief in action. Whenever the Bible speaks about faith is has this implication. Therefore when we define faith we should include action in our definition. Faith without action isn’t really faith.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

A New Take on Omnipresence?

The omnipresence of God is an interesting topic of discussion. While most people take the expression "God is everywhere" as a good definition of the term, Michael Patton takes an entirely different approach.

God is omnipresent. But his omnipresence does not have to do with his extension in space but space’s relationship to him. God is not everywhere if you are talking about his essence.

Here is what I believe to be a better definition of God’s omnipresence:

“Everywhere is in God’s immediate presence.”

I write this because I see many Christians describing God in such a way that toys with pantheism.

I definitely agree with Michael that the "God is everywhere" statement is misleading to people. I believe though that his definition limits omnipresence. It would seem that such a statement is better described as omniscience than omnipresence. I believe that there is a better definition for omnipresence:

God is present everywhere.

One can be present in a room and not be in the walls, and I believe that this is the essence of omnipresence.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

An Unbeliever's Belief in the Resurrection

The resurrection is certainly important to Christianity. Paul says, “If Christ be not raised your faith is vain (I Cor. 15:17).” The resurrection is also of prime importance in the field of apologetics. But, can one believe in the resurrection and still not be Christian?

Pinchas Lapide, an orthodox Jew and New Testament scholar, says an emphatic yes. In his book, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective, he states that this resurrection has to be accepted because of the unique growth of Christianity.

Thus, according to my opinion, the resurrection belongs to the category of the truly real and effective occurrences, for without a fact of history there is no act of true faith. A fact which indeed is withheld from objective science, photography, and a conceptual proof, but not from the believing scrutiny of history which more frequently leads to deeper insights.

In other words: Without the Sinai experience – no Judaism; without the East experience – no Christianity. Both were Jewish faith experiences whose radiating power, in a different way, was meant for the world of nations. For inscrutable reasons the resurrection faith of Golgotha was necessary in order to carry the message of Sinai into the world.

Thus Lapide views the resurrection of Jesus as along the same lines of other Old Testament resurrections. He sees it as merely another entry into the list of resurrected individuals. Unfortunately, Lapide in his book does not go on and expound his views on other particulars of the resurrection. He does not mention his views on the ascension or the resultant corruption of this Jewish resurrection by Christ’s followers. I would conjecture that he would liken Christ’s ascension to that of Elijah and that the corruption of the resurrection truth took place either through resultant Gentile influence or the Jewish disciples trying to harmonize their view of the Messiah with Jesus’ life.

For evangelical Christians, Lapide’s book is interesting because of his unique belief. Christians assume that if a person believes in the resurrection it almost goes without saying that he believes Jesus is God. This is most likely one of the reasons that the historical proof of the resurrection is one of the most researched and debated areas in apologetics. And yet, it seems that if one accepts the paradigm of theism, he could logically accept the resurrection and not come to faith in Christ.

And so enters faith. Amazingly the area of faith and evidence are controversial in the field of apologetics. For some faith plays a minor role in conversion. Robert Morgan stated in a 1998 journal article for PROFILE magazine that he believed that the truth of Christianity can be established to a 99% of certainty. The remaining 1% is the step of faith you take when you believe.

For some this is hard to swallow because of the overriding emphasis of faith in the Bible. While the New Testament does speak of evidence and is favorable to it, the New Testament does not uplift it as the means of salvation. Rather, it is belief, faith, and trust that brings one to God. In fact, people that hold to this view (referred to as presuppositionalist) argue that there is no 99% certainty without presupposition.

Regardless of ones belief, each person must develop what part faith plays in conversion. So my three questions to you are: does it take faith to believe in the resurrection, what do you think of Morgan’s statement, and what part does faith play in conversion.

Leave comments below.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Is Repentance Motivated by Judgment?

I believe that Christians often think that correction and judgment are the motivations that lead one to repentance. Or, at the least the prospect of judgment should keep one out of sin. While I would agree that there is truth to this statement, the apostle Paul gives a unique angle to the motivation of repentance.

And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Rom 2:3-4)

The context of these verses flow from the preceding chapter. In chapter one, Paul shows the utter sinfulness and depravity of the Gentiles. As he continues on, he brings worth an imaginary respondent. This person is agreeing with what he said in the previous chapter (Most think that Paul is implying that this person is a Jew). He condemns the Gentiles and yet is involved in the very same actions.Paul swiftly responds that the judgment that is coming on the Gentiles is also coming to this man. What is interesting is that Paul accuses him of despising the goodness. forbearnace, and longsuffering of God. These three graces should have caused this man to repent.

When we find ourselves struggling with sin, it is important to remember these three blessings. God's goodness is seen as Luther puts it...

...in the abounding fullness of His temporal and spiritual benefactions such as the blessings of body and soul, the free use of benefactions such as the blessings of body and soul, the free use of His creatures, the services which they render man, the protection of the holy angles, and the like.
We find that God also forbears our sins. Rather than judging us instantly, he withholds his wrath. Even more amazingly, his long-suffering continues to wait on our repentance.

These three truths should cause us not only to repent but to praise His greatness.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Come to Wayne Grudem's Sunday School Class

Wayne Grudem is a leading scholar in theology. His systematic theology volume is one of the best on the market, and I believe that it should be in the library of every serious student of Scripture.

If you don't have the $30 to shell out for his book, there is good news. You now have the chance to sit in on Wayne Grudem's "Christian Essentials" Sunday School class. Here's the link.

I am thankul to Justin Taylor for bringing this to my attention. Read More......