Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category
In the course of a certain recent train of thought set off by a certain portion of preparation, I struggled to identify a particular set of resources.
Specifically, I was thinking of the power of example, and applying it especially to church officers. As I considered the available resources, I found myself reasonably well-stocked with pastoral theologies, and with plenty of historical studies and (auto)biographies to adorn those pages. What I do not have, in anything like the same measure, is a treasury of diaconal theology, adorned with the same wealth of biographies and other studies to show as well as to tell.
Knowing that both of my readers are well-stocked with this kind of knowledge, I am writing to ask if either of you have any suggestions for anything that falls into this category (either direct treatments of the office and/or descriptions of it, biographical or otherwise), whether more ancient or more modern, and (ideally) robustly orthodox. Authors and titles would be appreciated; links to online documents would be a special blessing! Even if you think something is obvious, please let me know – if a suggestion duplicates something I already have or know, I shall simply take it as a helpful endorsement. Thanks in advance for any help rendered, and I look forward to reading your comments and suggestions.
Almost as soon as Calvinistic Baptists appeared on the scene in 1640s England, they demonstrated a whole-hearted commitment to evangelism and church planting. They were not alone, for many of the Puritans expressed concern for the regions of their country not yet blossoming with Gospel assemblies. None of these men could be content enjoying their own privileges, but actively engaged in seeking to bring the message of Christ to others.
Good stuff from Jim Renihan in full here. It sets a standard for us today that we need more readily to embrace. In particular, we need to see our ecclesiology and our missiology more closely intertwined.
Chapter 20 of the 1689 Confession of Faith (“Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof”) opens with the following statement:
1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise, the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual, for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
To all you 1689rs (and others) out there, a question about the opening words: “The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life . . .”
Do you read that as a statement of consequence? Would an acceptable paraphrase be something like, “Because the covenant of works was broken by sin, and so made unprofitable to [not able to grant] life . . .” as if the covenant of works could and would have been profitable to life had it not been broken?
Or, if our confessing forefathers had wanted to say that, would they have said, “The covenant of works being broken by sin, it became unprofitable unto life, so God . . .”? In which case, what is the sense of the phrase as it stands?
A minor point, but interesting. Grateful for any thoughts in the comments. Thanks in advance.
I am writing not from the soft streets of Niddrie but from the rocky spiritual wastelands of middle England, from the London commuter belt, from . . . Sussex! Admittedly, I live in a \’new town\’ called Crawley, which has a reputation – perhaps unfairly – for being the local sinkhole (the descendants of London\’s dregs rehoused after the Second World War), so perhaps I get a little more credibility from those who count filth and crime as badges of honour. Indeed, Crawley is so little esteemed that one of the neighbourhoods to the east of the town, a richer part of this area, has removed the name from its signs so that it does not get dragged down to our level. That said, even though it is notoriously difficult to classify the middle classes (even the BBC says so), I don\’t think that there is much doubt that I try to reach many middle class people with the gospel. Many of my labours outside the church building are either in the town square, or door to door in a neighbourhood which calls itself – perhaps inappropriately – a village. Our church planting endeavours are currently centred on an undeniable village outside of Crawley that is the very picture of middle England. All this to demonstrate that I am, largely, in the environment that Mez describes as so unpromising a field for gospel labour.
And it is.
Read the rest of my friendly rejoinder to Mez McConnell at Reformation21.
Perhaps, in our day, we are not always sure what we should be looking for in the heart and life of men and women who profess faith in the Lord Jesus. Far too many churches, perhaps feeling the pressure of numbers or some other force, are inclined to drop their standards or blur their distinctions, if they have them in the first place. In the face of that, these standards seem to me to be thoroughly biblical, genuinely gracious, and appropriately robust. They combine doctrinal understanding, experimental religion, and principled obedience – a religion of head, heart and hand, if you will. If more congregations embraced a righteous assessment of this sort with regard to professing converts and applicants for membership, I am persuaded that they would be spiritually healthier places than they too often are.
See what those standards were at Reformation21.
At the risk of being trampled by the ireful in the latest slanging match over rap and hip-hop, I wonder if I might interject? It seems to me, watching from a distance and not trying to read every contribution, that the debate quickly escalates into absolute and swingeing declarations that fail to take account of the various issues that ought to come into play. I may be wrong, but I hope I can lob a few thoughts into the debate.
I suggest that there are at least three questions that ought to be asked in assessing not just rap and hip-hop but other musical genres and forms.
First, and most generically, in what ways can a Christian appreciate, enjoy and embrace either a form or genre of music in and of itself, or a particular instance of that form?
Second, and a little more narrowly, to what extent is a certain form or genre an appropriate vehicle for the communication of distinctively Christian truth?
Third, and most specifically, is this question: is a certain form or genre a legitimate and appropriate means for the corporate worship of the gathered church?
Read the explanations at Reformation21.
This day was the best that I have seen since I came to England. . . . After Dr. Twisse had begun with a brief prayer, Mr. Marshall prayed largely two hours, most divinely, confessing the sins of the members of the Assembly, in a wonderful, passionate, and prudent way. Afterwards, Mr. Arrowsmith preached an hour, then a psalm; thereafter, Mr. Vines prayed near two hours, and Mr. Palmer preached an hour, and Mr. Seaman prayed nearly two hours, then a psalm. After this, Mr. Henderson brought about a sweet discussion of the heated disputes confessed in the assembly, and other seen faults to be remedied. . . . Dr. Twisse closed with a short prayer and blessing.
Read some lessions from Robert Baillie’s experiences at Reformation21.