Living Apostolic Germs

“Furthermore, the apostolic Christianity is preformative, and contains the living germs of all the following periods, personages, and tendencies. It holds up the highest standard of doctrine and discipline; it is the inspiring genius of all true progress; it suggests to  its peculiar problem with the power to solve it. Christianity can never outgrow Christ, bu it grows in Christ; theology cannot go beyond the word of God, but it must ever progress in the understanding and application of the word of God. The three leading apostles represent not only the three stages of the apostolic church, but also as many ages and types of Christianity, and yet they are all present in every age and every type.”  Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, p. 199.

The Federalism of Abortion

Here is a quotation from an excellent article regarding the unconstitutional nature of Roe v. Wade.  The entire article is well worth a few minutes.

From a constitutional perspective, moral arguments are irrelevant.  Properly understood, the abortion question is a matter of federalism.  Our Constitution lays out a governmental framework that is really quite simple.  The powers of the national government are enumerated in Article 1, Sec. 8.  The Tenth Amendment then tells us that any power not enumerated as a federal power (or prohibited by the Bill of Rights) is reserved for the states.  This includes a wide range of state regulatory powers (known as “police powers”) which include authority over many moral and social issues.  For example, the Constitution does not mention prostitution; therefore, it is a question for the states to decide according to their own local morals.  The state of Nevada has chosen to legalize prostitution; forty-nine other states have chosen to outlaw it.

The same logic should be applicable to abortion — and it was, prior to Roe.  By 1973, four states had legalized abortion, and forty-six others had restricted it.  But the Supreme Court decided that it was going to ram abortion down the nation’s throat, whether it had constitutional justification to do so or not.  The end result was a train wreck of an opinion.  Conservatives who oppose Roe ought not speak about it in hushed moral tones, but rather with derisive hoots, jeers, and catcalls.  The decision is intellectually fraudulent, and anyone who takes it seriously reveals his own intellectual insolvency.”

Sick Healthcare Information

“But claiming that, because millions of people have preexisting medical conditions today, they risk being denied coverage if Congress repeals Obamacare is like saying that, because millions of Americans live within five miles of the seacoast, they risk being killed by the next hurricane if Congress cuts funding for the Army Corps of Engineers. Such simplistic and superficial methodologies deliberately ignore all the other relevant factors that might lead a reasonable person to question their outlandish conclusions.”

Another good article from the Heritage Foundation.

EO Holy Underpants

Eastern Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemman notes that the cult of the saints, including veneration of saints and relics, was not mediatory or sanctifying. “It was sacramentally eschatalogical. It was “sacramental” in the sense that the presence of Christ attested to by the marty’s exploit was manifested in his body. It was eschatalogical because the martyr by his death demonstrated the power given to him by the Church” (Introduction to Liturgical Theology, p. 187).

But it didn’t stay this way.

The “emphasis” in the cult of saints shifted from the scramentally eschatalogical to the sanctifying and intercessory to meaning of veneration. The remains of the saint, and later even articles belonging to him or having once touched his body, came to be regarded as sacred objects having the effect of communicating their power to those who touched them. Here is the basis of the cult of the saints which appeared in the Church in the fourth century. The early Church treated the relics of the martyrs with great honor–“But there is no indication,” writes Fr Delehaye, “that any special power was ascribed to relics in this era, or that any special, supernatural result would be obtained by touching them. Toward the end of the fourth century, however, there is ample evidence to show that in the eyes of believers some special power flowed from the relics themselves.” (p. 189)

So for the Eastern Orthodox, it doesn’t have to be biblical in the sense of actually occurring in Scripture to be permissible. The Church, or part of it, simply recognizes something that has been done, even if invented out of whole cloth–like the saints can hear our prayers or that relics have power–and thus it becomes part of Holy Tradition. And their is no higher authority than Holy Tradition. It is the final word, above or on par with Scripture. This is EO’s version of holy Mormon underpants.

Paul Tripp making sense

This looks to be a great deal on a great resource. This DVD consists of 10 sessions addressing parenting issues for varous age-groups of children from 0-13.  Go to Westminster Bookstore to view some sample clips of Paul Tripp making sense. Just $15 for a limited time.

“Parenting is more than using your power to get children to behave in certain ways. Parenting is all about the exposure and change of the child’s heart. When the heart of a child changes the behavioral change that is needed will last. This is a great conference for parents raising children from age toddler through teen.

Learn how to be an instrument of heart changing grace in the little moments of life that God will give you with your children. Paul Tripp will begin with giving you a picture for God’s design for the family. Because if you don’t understand the family; you will never understand parenting. Then, Paul will help you to understand the life transforming and agenda setting things that the Bible says about the heart. Then, he will apply the principles about the family and the heart to the three primary stages of parenting.

In each stage Paul will give you the key issue of focus and practical steps for achieving what is important, at that particular stage of the child’s growth and spiritual development. Paul will also help you to identify those places where you are in the way of what God is calling you to do rather than being part of it by helping you to locate your own heart issues.”

Knowing You are Chosen

Election is one of the doctrines of grace and a great means of assurance. But when twisted, it becomes the opposite–how do I know, how do I know?!

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Dt. 29:29).

There is a systematic theological doctrine of election that pertains to what is addressed in this verse. God knows from eternity past all that will come to pass, including who will come to faith, and we are not able to see those decrees except in hindsight as they come to fruition in history. Because of this important systematic theological truth, many come to all sorts of unnecessary doubts. Don’t think so? Run this little thought experiment. In Reformed Churches, you know the ones with the guys who like to read big fat books about election, are most Christians more assured or less assured of their salvation than in non Reformed churches? If you were to take an average week of a Reformed pastor, is he more likely to encounter a pastoral problem dealing with doubts about faith and salvation, or a problem with boastful presumption?

This is because we neglect the biblical doctrine of election. This is not the sort of knowledge that pretends to peer back into the secret things of God, but rather insists on seeing the things that are revealed to us and our children. Those will small people need to hear this. “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess. 1:4-5). How does Paul know about the Thessalonians? They were certainly less zealous than the Bereans and from Paul’s letters apparently had really screwed up eschatology. But this didn’t change the power manifest in their response to the gospel. Their response wasn’t “yeah, uh huh” easy-believism, but they were faithful to spread the Word to Macedonia and even down into Achaia. Paul sees what the Holy Spirit did through them and  knows they are elect, part of God’s chosen church. He even encourgaingly tells them so. This is how election should be for us. Remaining sin and error in every Christian and every church does not negate the validity of what God has objectively done in our lives. Now we need to see and declare it.

Meyers Exonerated

Jeff Meyers, a pastor in good standing in the PCA, has recently been cleared of six doctrinal allegations regarding the Federal Vision. You can read the long gnarly final report here, or a little summary here. Three things I’d like to highlight with regard to this good news.  First, this is good because Jeff is a capable minister of the Gospel and that should be every Christian’s first concern. Second, it’s also good news because he has backed off not a whit from his Federal Vision convictions which fall squarely within the Reformed tradition. This means that Jeff was cleared of things falsely called Federal Vision, which some honest and charitable people have a hard time understanding, and others not so charitable misunderstand and then bring charges. And third, this is good because it bodes well for the PCA. Every denomination, every cranny of the church, needs to be able to keep its divisive members in check. This just happened in St. Louis. It will be interesting to see if the same sanity will prevail in the Pacific Northwest Presbytery in the case of Peter Leithart. Time will tell.

For those wanting a brief synopsis of  FV theology, here you go.

Law & Gospel

John Frame has a very helpful and brief (which is also helpful!) essay on the relationship between Law and Gospel. Here is a nice snippet:

The distinction between law and gospel is not a distinction between a false and a true way of salvation. Rather, it is a distinction between two messages, one that supposedly consists exclusively of commands, threats, and therefore terrors, the other that consists exclusively of promises and comforts. Although I believe that we are saved entirely by God’s grace and not by works, I do not believe that there are two entirely different messages of God in Scripture, one exclusively of command (“law”) and the other exclusively of promise (“gospel”). In Scripture itself, commands and promises are typically found together. With God’s promises come commands to repent of sin and believe the promise. The commands, typically, are not merely announcements of judgment, but God’s gracious opportunities to repent of sin and believe in him. As the Psalmist says, “be gracious to me through your law,” Psm. 119:29.