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Showing posts from September, 2010

What about "falling away"?

Note two passages in the book of Hebrews: Hebrew 6:4-6.  It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.Hebrews 10:26-31.  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Sp…

Comparison of Theologies

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What is theology?  Very simply, it is God knowledge. We each have a working theology – a framework that undergirds our understanding of doctrine.

Think of this framework as the "glasses" through which we view Jesus Christ (God’s Living Word); the gospel (the Apostolic word concerning Jesus); and Scripture (the written word of God, which reveals the gospel). We seek a framework faithful to all three, understanding that Jesus is the ultimate truth.

All Christian theologies seek to uphold orthodox Christian doctrine. Therefore, in comparing these theologies, we are talking about differing understandings among Christian brothers and sisters who are seeking to serve the same Lord. Thus, our discussion should reflect respect and gentleness, helping us live in peace rather than division.

We should all remember that the truth of God lies not in our theological frameworks, but in Jesus Christ, a living person, who alone is the Truth, the Way and the Life.

Within the Christian commun…

Singing sinners, singing saints – the mixed bag of wickedness and righteousness

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Here we are singing in church—sinners saved by grace—all singing praises and giving thanks through the Spirit for the love of God known in Jesus, who has made us his own, and who lives in us (Gal. 2:19-20).

Yet admittedly, sometimes we church-goers and the churches we attend become not a little hard to stomach, so it has become common of late for book after book to trumpet the general notion that “God is good, but church stinks, so I’m outta here,” as perceptive authors point to church problems and quote the disillusioned, the turned-off, the disaffected.

So it was quite a change to see a book titled Why We Love the Church: in praise of institutions and organized religion, 2009, by Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck (also coauthors of Why We’re Not Emergent). While agreeing the church has a boatload of problems and imperfections, the authors take exception to the growing attempt to have God without church, and they hope that by God’s grace their book might encourage four kinds of people—the c…

In what way is Scripture the "Word of God"?

Most Christians agree that the Bible is inspired by God and therefore is the Word of God. However, there is disagreement as to whether or not viewing the Bible as inspired necessitates viewing it as inerrant (without error of any kind). This is a huge topic with many twists and turns. For a helpful analysis, see a post on Roger Olson's blog titled How Do I Know the Bible is God's Word?

Olson prefers to refer to the Bible as being infallible rather than inerrant. In explaining, he offers Emil Brunner's illustration of the old RCA logo, which featured a dog listening intently to a Victrola record player. The caption reads, "His master’s voice.” In like manner, Olson views the Bible as infallibly conveying "our Master's true voice" on matters concerning faith and life (the issues which, for Olson, are the focus of Scripture). In GCI, we take a similar viewpoint in our statement of beliefs concerning Scripture.

In thinking through these issues, I find very …

Understanding the book of Leviticus

Recent posts on this blog have explored how Trinitarian, incarnational theology informs our understanding of the book of Exodus. We now look at how it informs our understanding of the book of Leviticus.

Purpose & Title
Exodus concludes with the glory of God’s personal presence filling the newly constructed Tabernacle. Leviticus follows with God calling to Moses from the Tabernacle. In the Hebrew Bible, this book bears the name of its first word: wayyiqra, meaning, he [God] called. The more familiar title Leviticus is from Greek and Latin translations of the book. It was given to the book doubtless because of its many instructions related to the work of the levitical priests. However, much of the book is directed to all the people of Israel, addressing issues related to how God makes it possible for them to live (and not die) in covenant fellowship with himself. In that regard, Lev 11:45 sums up the book’s purpose: “For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be y…

Congregational singing, and how special does ‘Special Music’ really need to be?

Nearly all churches use music of some kind—congregations sing hymns or worship songs, and some churches also use ‘special music,’ i.e. a selection of music (vocal or instrumental, solo, duet or ensemble) performed while an offering is taken up, or as a set-up to the sermon, or even as part of the message for the day.

At one time in our fellowship ‘special music’ was the norm—whether from an up-and-coming young music student, an established singer or musician, or a church choir. For years I was on a list of volunteer singers and musicians on a circuit to perform ‘specials’ at our home church in Pasadena and then make day trips to other churches throughout Southern CA. Great memories of serving and getting to know brothers and sisters in so many different congregations. But things change.

If you serve a very small church, it’s hard enough just figuring out how to do regular congregational singing, what less special music. If you’re really blessed, there’s a resident musician for accom…

The Little Credo of the Great I-AM

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If you'll bear with a longer than usual post, I will expand on my earlier post about The Great Amen of the Great I-AM by Dr. John McKenna. The book focuses on God's declaration in Ex 34:6-7, a passage Dr. McKenna calls The Little Credo of the Great I-AM.

Note first the passage (highlighted) in its context of vv 4-9:
4  So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth gener…