Some Thoughts on Being a Bible Literalist

In this post, Chris Rosebrough has some suggestions for you if you are ever “accused” of being a Bible literalist.  I personally would consider it a compliment to be accused of this but it is most often meant as a way of labeling someone in a negative way.  Rosebrough says

In short, you should strive to have no opinion of scripture that contradicts or conflicts with Jesus’ view of scripture. When you adopt that position you’ll be in good company. That was exactly the same view of scripture that Jesus’ disciples who later became the Apostles took.

Rosebrough touches on the different genres in Scripture and how each should be read.  He also makes the vital point that when we read the Bible we have to seek the authors original meaning.  Read the article and let me know if you agree or disagree with what Rosebrough says.  For the record, I completely agree with him on this subject.

By the way, if you have never listened to his podcast called Fighting For the Faith let me suggest that you do.  It is very good and you will learn a lot.  I don’t agree with every point he makes but I feel very comfortable suggesting his podcast to others.

Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (via Pastor Brett)

For those who have learned from Grudem’s book and may be interested in listening his lectures.

My favorite contemporary theology text, Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, is now available in lecture form by Grudem himself via podast through iTunes. I have no idea how to link you there; I recommend you simply open iTunes and so a search for 'Wayne Grudem'. … Read More

via Pastor Brett

I Have Been Interviewed

I have been interviewed by my friend Brett concerning my use of Prof. Horner’s Bible Reading System.  You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.  I have been using the system for a little over 100 days now.  If you are interested, go and read the interview and let me know what you think.

Warning: Don’t watch this interview if you don’t want to hear the true Gospel

Book Giveaway

They are having a book giveaway over at The Lighthearted Calvinist.  The book is a commentary on Revelation.  If you are interested, click here and submit an entry.

Prof. Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System

I recently came across Prof. Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System in this post by Nathan over at Cal.vini.St.  Basically, this system divides the Bible into 10 lists and you read one chapter from each list each day.  Dr. Horner says “The goal of this system is simple, and twofold: To know scripture, and to love and obey God more!

I often become convicted of the fact that I don’t read my Bible enough.  I am reading it almost on a daily basis (most of the time) but often it is not just to read it.  I am usually preparing for a class that I am teaching.  There is an abundance of Bible reading systems available and I have tried some of them before.  I have never stuck with one for very long because I get bored with the system and want some variety.  Also, sometimes I get distracted with reading other books and spend all (or most)  my available reading time on them.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think it is wrong to read other books as long as you are not reading something inappropriate.

So, I have decided give Prof. Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System a try.  I just completed Day 5.  I can so that so far it has gone well.  I can recommend that you give it a try.  Dr. Horner also has a Facebook page where you can also check out the system and read comments by people who are using the system.

If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you.

Open Discussion: Seeking Knowledge of God vs. Worshipping the Unknown and Unknowable

In another post the comments have taken a turn into an interesting discussion that has nothing to do with the original post.  I am starting this post in order to continue that discussion.  I am not going to move those comments to this post because I don’t know an easy way to do it and I am not going to do each one individually.  You can go to that post to see how the discussion progressed to this point.

I hope you enjoy the discussion and if you have something to add, feel free to do so.

Five Reasons We Should Study Theology

For many people the study of theology is unimportant.  They think it is boring.  They think it does not affect them.  Some think that studying theology is a task for ministers only.  You can probably think of several more reasons you have heard, or used, as to why people refuse to study theology.  These reasons are all false.  We all need to study theology.

In this short post, Nathan Bingham gives five reasons why we should study theology.  I just found this blog and don’t know anything about Bingham but the reasons he gives are clear, concise, and will make you think.  After reading his post, let me know if you agree or disagree with what he says.

Calvin: Free Will Combined With Divine Grace Is Corruption

“We must, therefore, remember what we quoted from Augustine, that some men labor in vain to find in the human will some good quality properly belonging to it. Any intermixture which men attempt to make by conjoining the effort of their own will with divine grace is corruption, just as when unwholesome and muddy water is used to dilute wine.”   [Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Book Two, Chapter 5, Section 15]

The illustration Calvin used in the above quote is very powerful.  It clearly explains what would happen if God’s election had to be combined with our free will choice to accomplish our salvation.  Anytime you combine something that is pure with something that is not pure, the end product is no longer pure.  It is impossible for the pure to remain pure.  God’s election is pure, our will is impure (totally depraved).  So, we can now see that God’s election cannot be combined in any way with our will (even in the most minuscule amount) to accomplish our salvation.  This means that if we have to cooperate (accept the free gift, seek Him, give our lives to Him, ask Him into our heart, etc.) with God in accomplishing our salvation then we cannot be saved.

Libertarian free will is a hot button issue today.  It is the first objection usually posed against reformed theology.  Do we have free will?  If so, in what measure?  If not, are we robots?  Proponents of libertarian free will are very dedicated to it.  In fact, it is nearly impossible to change their mind….only the truth of God’s word can do it.

What do you think if Calvin’s illustration?


Is Matthew 1:21 A Valid “Proof text” For The Reformed Believer Or Not?

One of the verses that I often cite when explaining my transition to a reformed theological position is Matthew 1:21.  The context of his verse is an angel telling Joseph that Mary has not been unfaithful to him and that the child she is carrying is of the Holy Spirit.  The angel tells Joseph what to name the child and for what reason the Holy Spirit has supernaturally impregnated her.  See for yourself:

Matthew 1:18-25 (18) Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  (19)  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  (20)  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  (21)  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  (22)  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  (23)  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).  (24)  When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,  (25)  but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Verse 21 conveys a very specific message.  It says that “He will save His people”.  Note that it does not say that” He will make them savable” or “He will make salvation possible”.  I need to make this distinction because of an article recently posted over at Society of Evangelical Arminians under the title of “Matthew 1:21:  How Calvinists Blind Side A Text“.  As you can imagine, the title caught my eye so I read it.  It is a short article but it gives a good understanding of what the Arminian postition is.  The Article starts with the following paragraph:

One of the more inane prooftexts for Calvinism is Matt 1:21, “…for he will save his people from their sins.” Calvinists argue that this is a statement of definiteness, that it does not say that Jesus will merely provide the opportunity of salvation for “his people,” but instead, that Jesus will definitely save his people. They claim that this flies in the face of Arminian assertions that through Jesus, God provides a way for everyone to be saved.

The quick Arminian retort is simple: “What!? Do you Calvinists think that Arminians deny that Jesus will definitely save his people??? Of course, we Arminians affirm that Jesus will definitely save his people, just as the text says.”

The author correctly and briefly begins by stating the Calvinist position on this verse.  (For those who might be wondering the word inane means:  lacking significance, meaning, or point, i.e. silly).  He also addresses a common objection Calvinists present to Arminianism:  that in Arminian theology Christ’s death only makes salvation possible, it does not directly save anyone.

In my own personal experience, which includes believing in this way myself and then, once I accepted Reformed Theology,  discussing this topic with others who still hold this view, most will say the same thing the author does.  They will quickly and easily affirm that Jesus’ death will save His people.  But, when questioned on specifics of how, most actually come to the position that Jesus’ death only makes salvation possible.  At which point most who believe this way no longer want to continue the discussion because they see the hole in their theology but are unwilling to address it.

The author continues

The ultimate question is a matter of defining “his people.” Indeed, in Matthew’s Gospel, the issue which is pounded is whether “his people” consists of Abraham’s descendants only, or whether “his people” is actually the community of faith, consisting of both Jew and Gentile believers; obviously, Matthew favours the latter position.

I agree with him here that the ultimate question is who makes up His people.  This brings us to the point of Election.  Who gets to define who His people are?  Do we or does He?  It is my contention that only God, as Creator, has that right.  The Creator is always greater than the creation.

If you say that His people are defined by us, then that brings up several questions that must be answered.  How can God be truly sovereign if we have the power to decide who make up His people?  Why would Jesus choose to bear, on the cross,  the sins of those whom He knew would never choose Him?  If Jesus did bear, on the cross, the sins of those who would not choose Him then on what basis does God punish them (because the penalty has already been paid by Jesus)?

In conclusion, Matthew 1:21 is a Calvinist proof text.  The author of the post has missed the point of what is being proven though.  It proves that there is a definite group of people who are known as His people.  We must then move on to find out who these people are and how they become and stay His people.

Do you agree with my assessment?  If not, why?  What is your understanding?