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Showing posts from April, 2010

Worship bloopers and "interesting" moments

What song is this? You’re the worship leader but suddenly you don’t recognize the piano intro, so the next few moments are, well, “interesting.”

Or have you ever forgotten lyrics? Ever lose your place and need a few moments to find it again? Ever start singing the second verse instead of the first? Ever belt out the first two words of a chorus only to discover that everyone else is singing the bridge you have skipped? Ever start a song in the wrong key?

If you’ve led worship for any time at all, you’ve run into some “interesting” situations. I’ve been there. Some are a little frightening or embarrassing, and some are humorous. I think my hair has turned a little more gray with each interesting episode, and now it’s nearly completely white.

Once at our national pastors’ conference I was sitting on a wooden stool onstage between worship songs, when suddenly with a resounding “craaaack!” the stool broke apart, and I just barely caught myself from falling completely to the floor. A qui…

In Christ, the church exists for mission

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Trinitariantheology(with its doctrine of God) is the basis for a Trinitarian ecclesiology (with its doctrine of the church) and a Trinitarian missiology (with its doctrine of the church's participation in the mission of the triune God).

For an in-depth look at all three, I recommend Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, and Atonement: The Person and Work of ChristBoth books contain the lectures of T.F. Torrance as edited by Robert T. Walker.

Chapter 11 of Atonement sets out Torrance's Trinitarian ecclesiology. He notes that the church, "formed in history as God called and entered into communion with his people," has three historical forms:
A preparatory form before the incarnation (beginning with Adam and focusing on Israel under the old covenant).A new form in Jesus, through the Spirit (the present church under the new covenant).A final and eternal form in the new creation ushered in at Jesus' coming in glory (p. 342ff).The church in its present form (#2)…

Your thoughts on the impact of the writings of Barth, Tom Torrance and James Torrance

GCI elder Eric Wilding is working on his thesis for a DMin degree. He is researching the impact that the writings of Karl Barth, TF Torrance and JB Torrance have had on GCI ministers - particularly with regard to their views of theology (doctrine of God), anthropology (doctrine of man) and ecclesiology (doctrine of the church).

Let's help him out by posting here our response to his query. Short bulleted points are fine.

As with all posts on this blog, you can reply by signing in to Blogger and then clicking on comments below any post. Or you can email your reply directly to me at Ted.Johnston@gci.org.

Being real

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I like the mission statement of Reality Ministries: Helping adolescents live into the loving presence and life-changing reality of Jesus Christ. I think they do a wonderful job of ministering out of a Trinitarian, incarnational vision. For them, it's about "being real."

At issue here is understanding two competing "realities" that we might refer to as God's reality and fallen-human reality.
God's reality is the truth of who God is (as Trinity) and who humanity is because God (in the person of the Son of God) has united humanity to himself. Through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, all humanity has been reconciled to God. In Christ, humanity is re-born - given a new reality.
Fallen-human reality is what most humans see and live by. Though God has reconciled them to himself, they do not "see it." They continue to believe and thus live in unreality. This has devastating consequences.
What Reality Ministries se…

Being liberated from myself, and the myth of solitary religion

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Invitation to Theology, A Guide to Study, Conversation and Practice, by Michael Jinkins, with Foreward by Alan Torrance (2001, InterVarsity Press) includes a discussion of God’s calling us out of isolation into community, along with the related issues of the myth of solitary religion and the dangers of being shut up in the solitude of our own hearts. (Dr. Jinkins is a trinitarian theologian and Academic Dean and Professor of Pastoral Theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.)

We recently quoted Dr. Julie Canlis [see 03.22.10 post] as saying that things done in the community of church – praying together, taking Holy Communion, and listening to scriptures (which were addressed to whole communities in the first place) – are things that “liberate me from myself.” Michael Jinkins provides additional detail to that picture in Invitation to Theology. Here are some quotes.
“…the Holy Spirit creates community among us as a refection of the communal life of the holy Trinity….tha…

The "Ephesians Road"

In presenting the gospel, many use The Romans Road - a presentation that uses certain verses in the book of Romans.

Though I have used this presentation many times, I have come to see it as less than adequate. I find that it "cherry picks" isolated verses from Romans, leaving one with a truncated message that tends to be more person-centered (focused on human response) than it is Christ-centered. The net result is a message not fully faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ taught by Paul in Romans and elsewhere.

Certainly, one can (and should) use Paul's epistle to the Romans to proclaim the true and full gospel. But these days, I tend to use Paul's gospel presentation in his epistle to the Ephesians. Trevin Wax (in Holy Subversion), refers to this presentation as The Ephesians Road.  It focuses on the finished work of the Father, Son and Spirit toward the salvation of all humanity. Here is that presentation in outline form:

- God's plan from the beginning is to…

The inseparable Incarnation and Resurrection

Christmas and Easter. Growing up, I remember our family photo album wasn’t complete each year without picturing the joy of both annual celebrations. So from toddler to teen years, there were pictures of us kids grinning from ear to ear by the Christmas tree in the living room, and a few pages later we were outdoors, dressed in Easter outfits and squinting in the sunlight of Spring. As years passed, each combination of pictures help show who we were and who we were becoming.

Of course we were not theologians—just a typical church-going family with three kids in the 1950’s and 60’s. But incarnation and resurrection really are inseparable, as T.F. Torrance makes plain in Atonement, the Person and Work of Christ (2009, InterVarsity Press):
The teaching of the New Testament makes it clear that we cannot isolate the resurrection from the whole redeeming purpose of God, or from the decisive deed of God in the incarnation of his Son that ran its full course from the birth of Jesus to his cr…

Jesus is alive and we are alive in him

On Easter, followers of Jesus celebrate the central truth of the Christian  faith: Jesus is alive (and we are alive in him)! Here is what T.F. Torrance writes (in Atonement, The Person and Work of Christ):
"The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... is a stupendous deed, comparable only to the original creation of the universe. Indeed like the incarnation itself, when God himself entered the creation as one of the creatures he had made in order to operate within it, the resurrection transcends it in significance" (p. 221). "Jesus Christ rose...the new Adam who heads the race in the new creation opened up in the resurrection from the dead [see 1Cor 15:45ff; Rom 1:4, 5:12; 2Cor 5:17]. As such he rose clothed with the power of the resurrection and is spoken of as 'life giving spirit' [1Cor 15:45]. He was not only an Adam into whom God breathed the breath of life and made a quickened soul, but the Adam with such fullness of life in himself that even as man h…