Archive for the ‘Reformed’ Category

Working Through Stuff

August 19, 2007

A week ago we had the right reverend James B. Jordan in the pulpit of Providence Community Church.   It is normal for us to have a time of discussion about the sermon after the worship service and Reverend Jordan led that discussion as well.  We were having audio problems that day and neither the sermon or his discussion are available at this time.  I would like to get some discussion on one thing Rev. Jordan said though so here it is…

His sermon was on the use of symbolism in the bible and how we, as western Christians, have difficulty thinking in those categories.  It was quite interesting and gave me much to think about.  The discussion that followed challenged my thinking about one particular event in the Genesis creation/fall account.

What was the first sin in the garden?  I know that Adam represented all of mankind with his sin but in what way did Eve sin before Adam?  In particular was Eve sinning when she said, ” “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 

Here was Rev. Jordan’s take on the issue:  Eve learned the commandment from Adam.  She was his helper and worked with Adam to flesh out obedience to the command of God.  The phrase “nor shall you touch it” was simply applied theology (my term not Rev. Jordan’s).  She issued a good commentary on the law and it was not an adding to the Word of God.

I had never heard that interpretation before though I have since found that Calvin held to something not much different: 

“When she says, God has forbidden them to eat or to touch, some suppose the second word to be added for the purpose of charging God with too great severity, because he prohibited them even from the touch. But I rather understand that she hitherto remained in obedience, and expressed her pious disposition by anxiously observing the precept of God; only, in proclaiming the punishment, she begins to give ways by inserting the adverb “perhaps,” when God has certainly pronounced, “Ye shall die the death.””

And Matthew Henry as well:

“It was an instance of her resolution that she adhered to the command, and faithfully repeated it, as of unquestionable certainty: “God hath said, I am confident he hath said it, You shall not eat of the fruit of this tree;” and that which she adds, Neither shall you touch it, seems to have been with a good intention, not (as some think) tacitly to reflect upon the command as too strict (Touch not, taste not and handle not), but to make a fence about it: “We must not eat, therefore we will not touch. It is forbidden in the highest degree, and the authority of the prohibition is sacred to us.””

I am just curious about two things:  1)  Am I the only one who was taught that Eve sinned in “adding to the Word of God?”  2)  Is there a reformed teacher that holds that Eve sinned in this area?

This is not a like discovering election for the first time or anything; but I am wondering what else I don’t know…

al sends

A Question Concerning Justification

June 12, 2007

After a conversation with a fellow pastor in my area, I’ve been contemplating a question. It’s one that I have ruminated on, discussed, and investigated for many years.

Can you have a defective theology of justification and still be justified?

Or to put it differently, Can you misapprehend the role of faith in justification, yet place your faith in Christ alone and thus be justified?

I’m interested in hearing your response and discussion before I post.

Time to Kiss and Make Up

February 25, 2007

I lurk around a number of blogs, like you probably do. I have been watching the goings on concerning the Federal Vision (FV) controversy for some time, especially at Blog and Mablog, Green Baggins, Heidelblog, and Mark Horne. It seems that there are certainly varying degrees of civility (or lack of it) in this tussle that has headlined in the Reformed world for several years now.

I think this whole debate is something worth following and understanding. It is substantive and important. I think that the FV men have some very significant things to say that correct some areas of inadequacy in contemporary Reformed theology. They are speaking to theological, ecclesiological, and pastoral issues that go beyond the typical Reformed confessional boundaries but that are vital nonetheless. After all, the confessions do not exhaust everything we should be saying as we proclaim the whole counsel of God.

Now, do I agree with everything being said by every FV man? No, no more than I agree with everything being said by, say, the OPC men or the PCA men or the URC men, or any other group of men in the Reformed world. Do a man’s teachings line up with the Word of God? That takes hard work, careful listening, and a generous spirit to answer. You need to know the Scriptures, understand the creeds and confessions, and be acquainted with history. That’s no easy task. But it must be done. And it can be done even while you love the truth and reject heresy.

I recently went to a local PCA pastor to invite him to join us in the wordlview conference we recently hosted. The theme was covenant succession — something I (naively) assumed was Presbyterian bread and butter that would be impossible to decline. Yet here is this pastor apologizing because we had two CREC pastors speaking, who had FV radioactivity clinging to them because of their contact with FV isotopes such as Doug Wilson, and though this pastor had never read FV men or listened to FV men, the men this pastor respect (i.e., Ligon Duncan, Rick Phillips, et. al.) fear the radioactivity of the FV men’s heterodoxy and have filled the air with suspicion and charges of heterodoxy. So this PCA pastor looks me in the eye and says, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I was floored really. He refused to join with fellow Reformed believers because of something he had heard about what we might be associated with that could be confusing to his people that he should probably avoid. I appreciate this brother’s caution and care for his flock. But really, that’s just not good enough.

No wonder the Reformed church is marginalized in our culture. In this kind of air of suspicion that is really the product of a caricature of 1 Timothy 4:16 and Jude 3 (to mix my metaphors), it is hard to have any kind of meaningful theological discussion, much less any unity and cultural impact for the gospel.

My wife (O precious saint!) and I have learned over the years that when we have a disagreement, two issues very quickly emerge: the issue we are disagreeing over, and the way we are disagreeing. In this FV controversy there are two issues: the FV issues and the way the Reformed church is disagreeing over it.

The church needs to kiss and make up, like my wife and I always do. The children are watching.