Friday, July 27, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Bloggers at the Aberystwyth Conference
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The drama of creation
The Bible is God's dramatic self-revelation. God himself is the primary actor in this drama. His first act was to speak the universe into being. The universe then becomes, as Calvin put it, "the theatre in which God displays his glory" (Institutes 1:6:2, 2:6:1. Vanhoozer was not the first theodramatist!). If creation is abstracted from the Bible's story for the sake of apologetics, then it is dedramatised, cut off from the great drama of creation, redemption and re-creation.
God's good creation was ruined and cursed as a result of the fall of man into sin (Genesis 3:17-19). The effect of the fall upon creation has to be borne in mind. Man no longer lives in harmony with his Maker. In fact, he is a rebel, dead in trespasses and sins. In his fallenness, he would rather worship anything other than the Creator. A sense of God has not been lost altogether, but that sense is suppressed, and ignored. God still addresses man through creation, but man in sin cannot and will not listen. The created environment has been deeply affected by the fall. Creation is subject to entropy and decay on a universal scale (Romans 8:20). As far as earth is concerned, this present evil age is characterised by natural disaster, disease and death. A vivid example of this can be seen in the floods that have devastated parts of England in recent days. Given all this, the arguments from design can only take us so far. Nature is now "red in tooth and claw". The world is not as it was originally made by God. If we argue from creation in its present state up to a Creator, then we have to say that he made the wasp to sting children at play and the cancer cells that rob people of their lives. There is still enough of God's goodness in creation to testify to his existence, power and care, but that is not the whole story. Even Psalm 104 recognises that creation, resplendent as it is with the glory of God, is marred by the presence of sin, "May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more." (vs. 34). An apologetic that wrests God's creative activity from the drama of the biblical story of creation, fall and redemption is deeply flawed. In terms of Paley's "watch", the timepiece was perfectly designed and constructed, but now it is broken. It still ticks away, but the face has been smashed and the casing is badly damaged. How it was broken and how it can be fixed is a matter not for arguments from design, but the biblical revelation of God's saving purposes in Christ.
God's gracious response to the fall was to announce that a "seed of the woman" will bruise the "serpent's head" (Genesis 3:15). The Creator proclaimed the good news of redemption from sin and its devastating effects. This "seed promise" is central to the Old Testament plot-line. This is made especially clear in the covenant that God made with Abraham, that in his "seed" all nations of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 22:18 cf Galatians 3:16). The covenant is God's dramatic solution to the problem of a sin-cursed creation. The promise of a "seed" from Abraham's line is further narrowed down to a descendant of king David (2 Samuel 7:12&13).
The God who created the universe at the beginning has acted to restore his creation through Christ. Note that Paul deliberately echoes Genesis 1,
Monday, July 23, 2007
The wonder of creation
When I look at your heavens,
the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a
little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
earth below is sweeter green,
something lives in every hue,
Christless eyes have never seen.
What I'm reading at the moment
Confessions by Augustine of Hippo, translated by Rex Warner, Signet Classics, repr 2001. I have a nice, small sized edition of this classic, which I leave in the car. I tend to read it when waiting to pick the kids up from an after school activity. Also, if I have an appointment with the Doctor or Dentist, I read it in the waiting room rather than old copies of Hello Magazine. With Augustine, waiting time is never wasted time.
The King of Torts by John Grisham, Arrow Books, 2003. I read Grisham's Testament while on holiday last summer and enjoyed it. This one was lent to me by a church member and I've read it intermittently over the last six months or so. Looks like I'll have to finish this one during our holiday too.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Reforming Reformed Theology
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Martyn Lloyd-Jones on reading and the preacher
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Ten things on reading
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
John Calvin on the resurrection of the body (3)
Monday, July 16, 2007
Ten books on revival
2. Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858, Iain H. Murray, Banner of Truth Trust, 1994.
3. Pentecost Today? The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival, Iain H. Murray, Banner of Truth Trust, 1988.
4. Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England, Jonathan Edwards, Works Volume 1, repr Banner of Truth Trust, 1984.
5. Revival: A People saturated with God, Brian H. Edwards, Evangelical Press, 1990.
6. Revival Comes to Wales: The Story of the 1859 Revival in Wales, Eifion Evans, Evangelical Press of Wales, 1986.
7. The Welsh Revival of 1904, Eifion Evans, Evangelical Press of Wales, 1984.
8. Fire on the Altar: A history and evaluation of the 1904-05 Welsh Revival, Noel Gibbard, Bryntirion Press, 2005.
9. Fire in the Thatch, Eifion Evans, Evangelical Press of Wales, 1996.
10. Historical Collections of Accounts of Revivals, John Gillies, repr Banner of Truth Trust, 1981.
O Lord, revive your work
in the midst of the years!
In the midst of the years
make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
Friday, July 13, 2007
What is the measure of my days?
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
John Calvin on the resurrection of the body (2)
Blogging in the name of the Lord: Series 2 "Box Set"
* The wishlist suggestion isn't meant to be taken too seriously - but it may help!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
My top ten Christian biographies
1. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939 (Banner of Truth Trust, 1982) & The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 (Banner of Truth Trust, 1990) by Iain H. Murray.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Blogging in the name of the Lord: Michael Haykin
MH: Born in England of Irish and Kurdish parents, I am currently the Principal of Toronto Baptist Seminary, Toronto, Ontario. I have just accepted an offer to become Professor of Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, in January of 2008.
I am the author of a number of books, including: The Spirit of God: The Exegesis of 1 and 2 Corinthians in the Pneumatomachian Controversy of the Fourth Century (E. J. Brill, 1994); One heart and one soul: John Sutcliff of Olney, his friends, and his times (Evangelical Press, 1994); ‘At the Pure Fountain of Thy Word’: Andrew Fuller as an Apologist (Paternoster Press, 2004), and Jonathan Edwards: The Holy Spirit in Revival (Evangelical Press, 2005). Most recently I have been writing some books on spirituality, one on the spirituality of Alexander Whyte, one on that of Edwards, and just recently one on Hercules Collins’ piety. These are published by Reformation Heritage Books in Grand Rapids.
I and my family attend Trinity Baptist Church, Burlington, Ontario, where I am also an elder.
GD: Congratulations on your appointment at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. May the Lord bless you in this new sphere of service. Your blog is called "Historica Ecclesiastica", what made you start blogging?
MH: I read Hugh Hewitt’s Blog which convinced that as a Christian leader I needed to be blogging.
GD: What have you found most enjoyable about blogging?
MH: Being able to share some reflections on church history with a larger audience than my books or speaking.
GD: What are some of the dangers of blogging?
MH: Wasting time—it is so very easy for hours to pass before you know it. I try to be disciplined in my time in this regard.
GD: Why should Christians be interested in Church history?
MH: Our identity is bound up with the past. We cannot know where we are going if we do not know where we have come from.
GD: For evangelicals, it often seems that church history began in the first century and then disappeared for 1500 years, only to re-emerge at the Reformation. What are we missing when we neglect the patristic and medieval periods of church history?
MH: We are missing tons. The early Church Fathers did theology in a pagan environment which ours is increasingly approximating. We can learn much from them. They and those in the fourth century hammered out a theology of the Trinity and addressed canon issues that are so vital to us. And with regard to the Middle Ages, we cannot understand the Reformation if we do not know that era. And there are some gems in it: J Wycliffe, Anselm, Aelred of Rievaulx.
GD: You wrote a book on three key Calvinistic Baptists - Kiffin, Knollys and Keach. What is the main lesson that these Baptist pioneers have to teach us?
MH: Their passion for biblical truth even to the cost of their lives.
GD: What role should historic creeds and confessions play in contemporary theological reflection?
MH: In my mind much. Christianity is not Christianity if it is not confessional. And the creeds of the early church are central to who we are—they are not infallible, but they are normative under Scripture. No creed but the Bible is a failure to understand the doctrinal emphasis of the faith that needs to be encapsulated in a short compass for Christian witness and expression.
GD: I read somewhere that you had a portrait of John Wesley hung in the lobby of Toronto Baptist Seminary. What do you, a Calvinistic Baptist, so admire about Wesley?
MH: His zeal for evangelism, his determination to reach the poor (so much of our evangelicalism is comfortable middle-class religion—and I do not use the word religion as a bad word), his love for souls (even though he admitted he always needed more love). And his love for singing and his publishing his brother’s hymns.
GD: Could you recommend a few books that serve as an introduction to church history?
MH: Timothy Dowley’s Introduction to the History of Christianity is a great starter.
GD: Name your top three songs or pieces of music.
MH: Oh this is very difficult as I have so many I like. Maybe better are composers/musicians: Charles Wesley’s hymns, those of Joseph Hart and John Newton and Robert Robinson’s Come Thou Fount. Trevor Francis’ O the deep love of Jesus. I love the Baroque composers like Bach and Scarlatti and Pachelbel. But I also like blues! Interesting and very eclectic.
GD: Have you seen the Wilberforce biopic, Amazing Grace? If so, did you enjoy it?
MH: Yes. And yes and no. Yes, it was great to see Hollywood deal with such a theme. I was saddened Wilberforces’ Christian faith was not as explicit. But that is Hollywood. And there were some big historical bloopers—like the link of Amazing Grace and the slave trade, which did not exist.
GD: Who was the most influential figure in your theological development?
MH: Martyn Lloyd-Jones. And then: men like Andrew Fuller and Samuel Pearce. And the Puritans and the fourth-century Fathers like Basil and Athanasius.
GD: That sounds interesting. Now, what would you say is the biggest challenge facing evangelicalism today?
MH: Building genuine Christian communities of light and love.
GD: Lastly, which blogs do you enjoy reading most and why?
MH: Another difficult question because I have a quite a number. Love Justin Taylor’s, and Albert Mohler’s and that of Russell Moore—all extremely informative and the latter two also provocative. I like my friend’s Kirk Wellum’s. Free St George’s because of his love of history. But these are only five of about ten or twelve.
Friday, July 06, 2007
John Calvin on the resurrection of the body (1)
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Some good stuff
N.T. Wight's ordo salutis here.
Samuel Rutherford and the limits of toleration here.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
The Hand of God by Frederick S. Leahy
by Frederick S. Leahy, Banner of Truth Trust, 2006, 207pp.
This work is packed full of sane, pastoral wisdom and is the product of a passionately God-centred theology. Leahy demonstrates how the sovereignty of God is deeply relevant to every area of life. He makes penetrating application of Biblical teaching to contemporary issues such as the environment and materialism. His main aim is to comfort and strengthen the people of God. Life in this fallen world can sometimes be very difficult and baffling. Leahy deals sensitively with the problem of suffering and evil and assures us that God is in control of all events. The Lord may use suffering to chasten and discipline us, but he always does so in love, for our eternal benefit.
In this book, readers will find robustly Biblical teaching on God’s sovereignty in salvation and good, practical discussion of issues like guidance and Christian service. At a time when many Christians seem to shy away from all talk of hell, Leahy writes honestly and compassionately about the final judgement. The chapter, The Hand That Judges is shot through with urgent, evangelistic appeal, making this book useful to unbelievers as well as Christians.
Fredrick Leahy’s experiences as Minister of the Gospel, theological teacher and popular writer find fine expression in this, his final book. The writer was called to glory in January 2006.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Jim Packer revisits penal substitutionary atonement
Preaching and the power of the Spirit (3)
From Preaching and Preachers p. 324, Hodder and Stoughton, 1985.