The Bible: A Perfect Treasure of Heavenly Instruction


We believe the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction;[1] that it has God for its author, salvation for its end,[2] and truth, without mixture of error, for its matter;[3] that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us;[4] and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union[5] and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and opinions should be tried.[6]

New Hampshire Confession of Faith

The New Hampshire Confession of Faith, a Baptist confession of faith from the 19th Century, begins with this beautiful article on the Scriptures.

I love the phrase “God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without mixture of error, for its matter.” A perfect treasure indeed.

Also of interest is the last phrase: the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.

Do we try our opinion, conduct, and creeds by the Bible, or do we try the Scriptures by the standard of our opinions, our conduct, and our creeds?


[1] 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Sam. 23:2; Acts 1:16; 3:21; John 10:35; Luke 16:29-31; Psa. 119:11; Rom. 3:1-2

[2] 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; Acts 11:14; Rom. 1:16; Mark 16:16; John 5:38-39

[3] Prov. 30:5-6; John 17:17; Rev. 22:18-19; Rom. 3:4

[4] Rom. 2:12; John 12:47-48; 1 Cor. 4:3-4; Luke 10:10-16; 12:47-48

[5] Phil. 3:16; Eph. 4:3-6; Phil. 2:1-2; 1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Pet. 4:11

[6] 1 John 4:1; Isa. 8:20; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Cor. 8:5; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:6; Jude 3:5; Eph. 6:17; Psa. 119:59-60; Phil. 1:9-11

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Book Review: A Fellowship of Differents by Scot McKnight


A Fellowship of Differents

The church is increasingly being understood from a global perspective. Looking backwards and summing up his two volumes on church history, Justo González says:

A twenty-first [century] history of Christianity must be global.
…The new narrative must be global both in its horizontal, geographic dimension—covering all lands and peoples—and in a vertical, sociological dimension—acknowledging the faith, the lives, and the struggles of those whose story is too often excluded.
The Story of Christianity Vol. 2, p. 528-29

What González and others such as Philip Jenkins are doing for the history of the church, Scot McKnight attempts to do for the future of the church. In A Fellowship of Differents, McKnight casts a Biblical vision for the church as God intended. So how does he fare?

While his authority on New Testament interpretation, background, and context shines through admirably at times, A Fellowship of Differents is an uneven offering that does not live up to McKnight’s ambition for it. 

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A Different Sort of Apology for the Crusades


With the President’s recent remarks on the Crusades at the National Prayer Breakfast, the Crusades are suddenly (seemingly) everywhere. Everyone has their own opinion on why the President was wrong or why the Crusades were wrong or why everyone else is wrong. Unfortunately, it seems many are leaping to share their opinions with nothing more than a passing/pop culture familiarity with the events in question.

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I don’t intend to share much personally on the subject other than to recommend Rodney Stark’s book God’s Battalions[†] to anyone who would seek a first step in educating themselves on the subject at hand. I read and reviewed the book for a class last semester and found it to be an excellent starting point not just for a discussion of the Crusades themselves but for an examination of the lenses through which we we view the past. Stark apologizes for the Crusades not in the sense of asking someone/anyone for forgiveness but rather in the other sense of the word: that is, a reasoned argument or writing in justification of something. Stark aims to show that much of our so-called “knowledge” of the Crusades is actually not knowledge at all but misconceptions, untruths, and anachronistic impositions of modern, Western morality on a most decidedly non-Western and premodern culture. Whether or not you agree with Stark, it is important to acknowledge at least the possibility that we are not seeing everything with the equivalent of “historical 20/20 vision” (…as if that even existed). As historian Christopher Tyerman observed in a book with a similar aim as Stark’s: “To observe the past through the lens of the present invites delusion; so too does ignoring the existence of that lens.”[1]

For those not yet convinced or who want a preview of the book, I’ve excerpted a few paragraphs from my review in the rest of this post. So read on if you’re even just a bit interested in the subject.

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Calvin and the “Wrong Side of History” Argument (Or, Calvin and cultural peer pressure)


“You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, do you?” There are many presuppositions to be found in this oh-so-leading question. For instance: there is a tautological progression from ignorance to knowledge and history is a simple unfolding of this process. The former things are inferior to the latter. We are much closer to a perfect world than those who lived 1000, 100, and even 10 years ago. But what it all really boils down to is the same reasoning undergirding this playground observation: “Everybody else is doing it. You don’t want to be left out, right?”

MTE5NTU2MzE2MTcyNDg2MTU1I’ve recently started reading through John Calvin’s “Institutes” as a supplement to my personal devotions and my class readings. I’ve tried to be realistic and yet aggressive in my goals by only aiming to read 10 minutes or so a day of this religious tome. So my progress has been happily tortoise-like (slow and steady and all that). But it’s been lovely to savor each snippet of Calvin’s magnum opus.

While reading Calvin’s Prefatory Address to the King of France, one of his arguments leapt off the page for its enduring relevance. Calvin’s critics have called him “to the bar of custom,” that is, they are arguing against him because that’s just not the way most people think or things have been done. History has spoken and it is on their side. In reply, he states:

Human affairs have scarcely ever been so happily constituted as that the better course pleased the greater number. Hence the private vices of the multitude have generally resulted in public error, or rather that common consent in vice which these worthy men would have to be law.

Calvin’s observation is that, although we may wish that it was that simple, might does not make right. A simple majority does not immediately equate to automatic morality and correctness. How then are we to respond as Christians? What do we appeal to if not established custom or current majority views? He continues:

But be it so that public error must have a place in human society, still, in the kingdom of God, we must look and listen only to his eternal truth, against which no series of years, no custom, no conspiracy, can plead prescription. Thus Isaiah formerly taught the people of God, “Say ye not, A confederacy, to all whom this people shall say, A confederacy”; i.e., do not unite with the people in an impious consent; “neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Isa 8:12). Now, therefore, let them, if they will, object to us both past ages and present examples; if we sanctify the Lord of Hosts we shall not be greatly afraid.

 

To paraphrase: what are we afraid of more? Are we concerned about not agreeing with most everyone else (and them not agreeing with us)? Or are we concerned about not agreeing with the Lord of hosts? Does the fact that “this is how things have been done by most people” OR “this is how most people are going to do it in the future” rival God’s supremacy in the matter? Shall we fear the opinions of others or the Lord himself?

Would you rather be on the wrong side of history or the wrong side of eternity? 

Monday Morning Music-“This I Believe” by Hillsong


Part of our reading for my Church History class here at Golden Gate was some of the various creeds that the Church has used over the past few centuries. It reminded me of this song that I enjoy from Hillsong and want to share with you.

What an amazing privilege to share these beliefs with those who have gone before us in the journey of faith that following Jesus is!

(…of particular interest to me is what portions of the song are actually from prior creeds and what the songwriters added themselves. But no need to go into all that detail analyzing it if you don’t want to! 🙂 )