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Showing posts from August, 2010

Mythology or theology? And would you invite this person to a cookout?

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Did the Council of Nicaea recommend niacin? Is Pelagianism related to plagiarism? Is the father of 70 children called a Septuagint? Does the Kenotic Theory explain the mystery of why Ken is no longer with Barbie? And can anyone you’d want to invite to a cookout even pronounce Eutychianism, what less know what it means?

Okay, so you might know the answer to some of the above, but let's face it, theological sounding terms and the word ‘theology’ itself just smacks of confusing academia—and of old dead guys in the Church—and seems to have little to do with the simplicity that is in Christ. ['Dead old guy' Athanasius, pictured below, died way back in 373, and we'll get to him shortly.] Besides, all you really want to do is be able to share a prayer, a song, or a timely meaningful word with your sisters and brothers. You're not after a PhD.

Perhaps you’ll find encouragement in the words of respected theologian T.F. Torrance from pages 445-446 of the Epilogue of Atone…

Is God really like Jesus?

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When Jesus tells Philip, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9), can he be believed? Is God really like Jesus? And what about its corollary: Is Jesus really like God? Note T.F. Torrance's comment in Reality and Evangelical Theology:
Only if God really became man in Jesus Christ, and really made our human nature his own in him, may we say that [biblical] statements [about God]... are related to what God is in himself in a real and not in a merely conventional or fictional way... (p110, 1982 edition). At issue is Jesus' divinity. Is he merely a "godly man" or is he God come in the flesh, and thus Really God? Again quoting from Reality and Evangelical Theology:
This is precisely the problem that faced the fathers of the church at the Council of Nicaea, when they found themselves forced to come to a more precise understanding of what it meant to say about Jesus Christ that he is of God, for as they realized it is upon the answer to that quest…

Robin Parry: Realize it or not, it’s the Triune God you encounter and experience

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Dr. Robin Parry, Theological Books editor for Wipf and Stock Publishers, and author of Worshipping Trinity: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship, was recently interviewed about having a Trinitarian perspective in worship. (We previously posted quotes from Parry’s book here on 2.16.10, 2.23.10 and 3.08.10.)

As part of the interview, Parry [pictured below] was asked what Christians may be missing if they don’t have some kind of understanding of the Trinity and the relationships within the Trinity and how we are drawn into that relationship. (For even though they believe in the Trinity as a fundamental doctrine….most members don’t think about it and they wouldn’t be able to explain it if they were asked.) What do they lose? They know they are Christian and they know they have faith, they know they are saved by grace and they experience and walk in Christ to the degree that they can, but what are they missing—what could they have if they better understood?

Parry: I think what we have to…

Seven gospel truths

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Reality Ministries director Jeff McSwain reports in his current newsletter about Experience Reality Camp for middle and high school age students. In large group camp teachings, Jeff focused on seven gospel truths (listed with Jeff's permission):
You don’t know who you are until you know whose you are (and Satan ain’t nobody’s daddy!)Jesus chooses me and embraces me at my worstJesus knows me the best, loves me the most and forgives me before I askJesus calms my stormsJesus has the desire to listen and the power to helpJesus loves me this much (arms outstretched like on a cross) to give me a big picture view of my lifeJesus rescues me and brings me homeThese life-altering truths flow from a trinitarian, incarnational understanding of the gospel, which declares that God, through the Spirit, in Jesus Christ, has included all humanity in his life and love. Jeff comments (quoted, with permission, from his newsletter):
...I am convinced that we must give students an assurance of God’s comm…

Remembering the passionate music and ministry of Keith Green

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In this post Lee Berger reflects on the life and music of Keith Green, following a recent live web event honoring the ministry of Keith. Thanks Lee for sharing! As always, additional comments from readers are most welcome.

- Mike Hale

Hi friends. I don't know how many of you are fans of Keith Green’s music or are acquainted with the Jesus Movement music of the 1970's, but what Keith and others wrote and sang in those years was part of the genesis of what we today call "contemporary Christian" (including the bands, the soloists and the praise & worship music that is in vogue now). Keith [pictured below] was truly a firebrand of the gospel and a genius with his music and lyrics, and I love his writings.

On July 28th there was a free live web event honoring the life, ministry and music of Keith. His wife, Melody Green (who wrote many songs of her own) sponsored the event, and Christian leaders from Youth With a Mission (YWAM) and other organizations as well as ind…

God in covenant with his people in his creation

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I recently finished reading Dr. John McKenna's book, The Great Amen of the Great I-Am (subtitled, "God in Covenant with His People in His Creation"). Though not an easy read, much is gleaned by following John's careful application of Trinitarian, incarnational, Christ-centered theology to understanding the covenanted relationship of our Triune God with all humanity - what John calls the Biblical Covenant Relationship (BCR, for short).

John surveys the Bible with a focus on the Old Testament - Exodus in particular. Like Ray Anderson (click here for my post on Anderson's book, The Soul of Ministry), John sees in Exodus the theological foundation for the Pentateuch (and all the Old Testament) - including the Genesis accounts of Creation and Fall.

John highlights Ex 34:6-7, which he calls The Little Credo of the Great I-AM. Here God, having revealed himself in the gracious, creative act of delivering Israel out of Egypt, declares with words his identity: "the  …

Is God's forgiveness conditional?

In Matthews 6:14-15, Jesus proclaims to his gathered disciples: "...If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (KJV). Does this statement contradict the key teaching of Trinitarian, incarnational theology that God, in Christ, has forgiven all people?

It's important to understand the context here. Jesus' statement is part of his Sermon on the Mount, (which spans Matthew chapters 5-7). In this sermon, Jesus is telling his disciples about life in his kingdom (life with him under God's rule). This context is helpfully addressed in studies on the Sermon on the Mount on the Trinity Study Center website (produced by Dr. Gary and Cathy Deddo):
Jesus begins [the Sermon on the Mount]...with a list [called The Beatitudes]. It is almost like a poem. Each of the first nine lines begins with the word “blessed.” Each of the first 8 lines has a seco…

If introverts are called and gifted by God, then why is church designed for extroverts?

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Church, especially the evangelical church, is largely designed for extroverts—and that’s a problem, especially since fully half of us are actually introverted. Such is the picture drawn by Adam McHugh in Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture (2009, InterVarsity Press).

McHugh cites comprehensive surveys of the last ten years showing 50.7 percent of the general population as introverts, and then explores ways to more fully include introverts in the evangelical church, and better utilize their God-given abilities. As to why the church is so bent toward extroversion? The author says that besides the larger culture (schools, corporations and social institutions) already being slanted toward extroversion, it is also because churches place such a high value on relationships.

So we set up groups, fellowship hours, social events, classes, accountability groups, committees and prayer chains and encourage or imply required participation. So much that,
"…. fo…

Ministry precedes theology

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In The Soul of Ministry: Forming Leaders for God's People, Ray Anderson notes that "ministry precedes theology" (p. 3). By this he means that God's actions in history (his ministry) precede our concepts about God (theology). "It is through God's ministry of redemption that we understand the meaning of God's work..." (p. 4). Through obedience and response to what God does by speaking and acting within the framework of human history, we come to understand God's nature and purpose.

To test our understanding of this, Anderson asks, "Who was the first theologian in the Bible?"  We might think to answer Abraham. But Anderson thinks otherwise:
"Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are storytellers and actors in the redemptive drama and they, too, in living and telling the story of God's acts, expound a theology of God's ministry. But it is Moses who ultimately tells their stories as part of his account of God' purpose from the beginning …