Friday, December 22, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
John 6 and Election:
We see clearly in John 6 that faith is the gift of God given only to those whom God has chosen. Jesus says in v. 35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” The words “comes” and “believes” in this sentence mutually interpret one another, so that both designate a coming and believing that saves, for those who come to Jesus and believe in him find life through his death.9 Two verses later we read, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). It is evident from v. 35 that “comes” is another way of speaking of believing. Furthermore, the coming and believing in both vv. 35 and 37 clearly refer to the actions of individuals, for John uses the third person singular.10 Verse 37 also teaches that all those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son, and that all those who come will be received by the Son. In other words, all those given by the Father to the Son will believe in the Son. The text does not say that only some of those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son, but all of those given will come and believe. It is clear that not all human beings come to the Son, for not all believe.11 So, only some come to the Son, and those who do come have been given by the Father to the Son, and all those given by the Father to the Son come, so that it follows that those who come do so because the Father has given them to the Son. Moreover, v. 44 clarifies that human beings who do not come to the Son have not been drawn by the Father. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Those who do not come refuse to believe because they were not given by the Father to the Son. We can conclude, then, that John 6 teaches individual election unto salvation. All those given by the Father to the Son will come to faith, whereas those not drawn by theFather cannot and will not come.__________________________
Here is the above text again with my comments intermingled in blue:
We see clearly in John 6 that faith is the gift of God given only to those whom God has chosen. Jesus says in v. 35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
I think it's much more clear that this is a wide open invitation to, "whomever comes to me", than it a statement about who are, "those whom God has chosen". The word 'clearly' here would have to be strictly rhetorical and actually comes back to betray the speaker.
The words “comes” and “believes” in this sentence mutually interpret one another
No they don't. They are distinct by their seperation and individual use. As well as difference in definition. Yes, they have a pairing in the Greek however that pairing does not guarantee the tenuous point the speaker is trying to conclude.
so that both designate a coming and believing that saves, for those who come to Jesus and believe in him find life through his death.9
Come and believe here are two separate verbs and ideas. Both able to and intended to stand alone.
Two verses later we read, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). It is evident from v. 35 that “comes” is another way of speaking of believing.
Not evident to me. What is evident to me is that it is 'apart from' and 'precedes' believing.
Furthermore, the coming and believing in both vv. 35 and 37 clearly refer to the actions of individuals, for John uses the third person singular.10 Verse 37 also teaches that all those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son, and that all those who come will be received by the Son.
It doesn’t say they are raised or saved, just recieved. Where else is recieved used synonymously with saved?
In other words, all those given by the Father to the Son will believe in the Son.
No, that they will just come.
The text does not say that only some of those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son, but all of those given will come and believe.
Does it say ‘come and believe’? No, ‘come and not be caste out’.
It is clear that not all human beings come to the Son, for not all believe.
It does not say that. There's that 'clear' word again. Danger.
11 So, only some come to the Son, and those who do come have been given by the Father to the Son, and all those given by the Father to the Son come, so that it follows that those who come do so because the Father has given them to the Son. Moreover, v. 44 clarifies that human beings who do not come to the Son have not been drawn by the Father. “Noone can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Those who do not come refuse to believe because they were not given by the Father to the Son.
No, just that they were not drawn and therefore cannot believe.
We can conclude, then, that John 6 teaches individual election unto salvation.
Yes we can.
All those given by the Father to the Son will come to faith,
Where does this one come from. Someone forgot to explain this one. This statement has been rejected, please reinsert in the appropriate passage of scripture.
whereas those not drawn by the Father cannot and will not come.
We still can't be sure how it all works so just be glad you have an inkling of how part of it works and beware of any grand conclusions.
It's interesting, as you follow this thread of reasoning, and how after you go along and string all of these words together and come up with something sounding like a fairly convincing riddle, that you are left with absolutely no guarantee that you have the answer right. I think that sort of reasoning would be much more accessible to me if the pope had a bounty on my head such as he did on Calvin's. It lacks truth.
We sometimes look inside the apostles words to see if there is even more meaning than they knew they were recieving, not the things they had heard during their time spent listening to Jesus and recited later on, but more meaning from what they were taught by the Spirit than they were even aware of themselves, as if we can somehow read their minds and recieve more than even they did...and satan beholds an opportunity. Don't let him have it._____________________________________
Friday, December 08, 2006
What Sweeter Music.
The Choir of King's College in Cambridge does an excellent job. Here's a link to the cd homepage to listen to more inspirational christian selections from this Christmas cd.
On Christmas Day: New Carols From the Kings.
Monday, November 27, 2006
What an amazing resource this Rhapsody.com was for me. I came away from the first rehearsal with 8 complex pieces of choral music that I had to learn and 10 minutes after returning home I found most of them on this site after just 'searching' the author and title. I read music but can learn much quicker by ear. Hope this stuff adds to your library of good Christmas tunes. Vivaldi's bio is also very interesting.
In order to listen to each one of these, you'll click on the title below, which will take you to the right page, and then will have to scroll down to, and click on, the 'selected track' which will be highlighted for you.
Gloria in excelsis Deo
Et in terra pax
Gloria in D, RV589 -...
Cum Sancto Spiritu
(I included the four that don't remind a person of Christmas as much because it's a little early for me to start thinking much about it.)
The other neat thing to do, while you're at Rhapsody looking at their music, is to add some that you like to your 'favorites' page for easy access to perhaps raise your spirits at certain times(or even to vanquish some other moldy old seasonal tune out of your head with).
Peace and joy and hope and most of all love as we get closer to the highly stress filled dual-natured Chrismas season. Lots of hard work ahead. Joy as well, with the mind set on the Spirit. Let me echo a hardy praise God! Todd
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
For the past three or four years Pastor Jeff has been working his flock through the bible on Sundays at roughly a chapter a week, the first half hour looking at the chapter and the second looking at it's living relevance to life today and the rest of Christ's living word, in an effort to build up and strengthen his church as people prepared to serve and glorify the Lord in their lives.
This would be the link to his first digital sermon:
He's managed to do it at virtually no expense by using the freely available resources of the internet, and alot of tenacity.
Friday, September 29, 2006
My daughter is off to an overnight at her friends and I am left with some time on my hands. I've been waiting for the chance after a hectic busy season to update my blog with my year older and wiser me. Isn't it a wonderful thing to be able to grow wiser.
My goals were to become a better musician, a better workman in the service of God and Christ, lead my daughter through her seventh year of life, stay out of debt, and minimize my day job to the maximization of those ends. It worked out. I was able to accomplish covering all the bases and be only a little further in debt than I was a year ago.
I study the bible, write lyrics and make up tunes. I have a long modest musical experience to draw from, having played the trumpet and most stringed instruments modestly well, but primarily have a good ear with a not so bad musical memory. I like my music to dance along and my slow tunes to waltz slowly and graciously being very light on their toes, and kicking high up in the air. So I'm not everybody's church pianist. But I've fallen hopelessly in love with the hymnal and its huge library of inspirational music. In fact I've just decided what I'm going to tell people I play on the piano instead of gospel music. I will tell curiosity seekers that I play inspirational music. Music meant to inspire you to dance and reflect heartily on God while enjoying His gift to us of music. I'm sure I will play secular music again at some point, afterall, that's how I discovered and developed the gift that I can now use to serve God, all of that Irish fiddle playing, but I just can't envision when secular music would draw my attention back at this point. Not with all of the inspirational fiddle tunes to be played on the piano. So anyway, that is what I spend my spare time at and I've finally entered the phase where I can begin to share it with others. I bought a home recording studio-from-a box, they call them these days. Pictured below:
Below the recording unit and under the half inch thick instruction manual is not a phone book but the
reference guide "Home Recording For Musicians For Dummies" upon which I pin my guarded optimism.
The sobering news to quickly return everyone back to the state of anticipatory dread is that I have to learn how to work it now, and that is going very slowly. This piece of equipment will easily satisfy my needs of being able to create a recording that demonsrates that, with a good producer, the music will sound great...or perhaps, will sound still beyond help. But I now have the equipment to enable me to either make the music fly or flop as I may. God has made it completely accessible for me now to serve Him musically in some fashion and have it on the record in cd form to boot. Just not very soon.
That is why I won't be doing much lengthy blogging. Because the thousand some hours I put in last year learning to play fluently by ear in the keys of E flat, A flat, F, G, C, D, A, didn't entirely get it done. Even aided by the fact that I refuse to play any tune in D flat.
Some good news is that the 'cut and paste' electonical technology of today is greatly improving my chances at becoming brilliant sounding, but the fact that I'd like to also take my act ouside of the safety of my bedroom, is going to add another thousand hours onto the end of my practice schedule. But I do think, with a few more thousand hours of practice I'll be able to survive the public without the 'trap doors and mirrors'. At the very least I think I'll be able to accomplish being a tolerable sounding church pianist.
One thing I must stop doing is getting in these time consuming debates with athiests and other marginal characters, albeit a tremendous learning and growing experience. I've used up considerable hours in the past week trying to show a group of flamboyant athiests the error of their ways. It can be a challenging area to serve the Lord in up to the point where you've said what's needed to be said. I've often thought of what a great opportunity blogging with athiests would be to serve the Lord. I just don't know how effective I can be. I'll post it shortly in my reference blog just so you can be sure of what an oddball I am. If it ever ends.
So hello! and thanks for checking up on me. If you are anyone in my sidebar (if you can find it, I've tried everything to get it back in place and have given up) or if you are any number of other great brothers and sisters in the Lord I've met while blogging then please continue to teach me as you have been doing. Help me learn more about the knowledge and wisdom of God's word and let me help you learn anything I am be able to which God has gifted me with any additional insight towards. What a fabulous year of growth in and from the Lord it has been for me, which you can tell from my sidebar if you can find it. Much more profitable fellowship with you to come while we celebrate and praise God together, and while we serve each other and the Lord, in study and deedful service.
Together with you in Christ,
Saturday, August 05, 2006
And then ohhhhh...,
And all Christ’s people come out,
That’s what God’s loves all about.
His Son will gather away,
All of the faithful that day,
Because they trusted He who lit their way.
And all Christ’s people come out,
That’s what God’s loves all about.
His Son will gather away,
All of the faithful that day,
Because they trusted He who lit their way.
And all Christ’s people come out,
That’s what God’s loves all about.
His Son will gather away,
All of the faithful that day,
Because they trusted He who lit their way.
It’s not mine...,
And all Christ’s people come out,
That’s what God’s loves all about.
His Son will gather away,
All of the faithful that day,
Because they trusted He who lit their way.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
He also said this idea was worked out in much greater detail by the Italian Protestant refugee, Acontius. I'll enjoy investigating the ideas of this fellow and others of his persuasion because it may be the one area of theology that holds as part of its system the imperative to be of the one mind of Christ. It might actually be the first workable system that invites Christ honoring unity. But first I will evaluate Calvinism. I've had a four week persistent cold that has not been very farrier friendly. But it must be on it's way out.
I read this book three years ago. Why didn't I remember that the second to last chapter held some key informaion pointing toward much more sound, scripturally supported theology than the present divisive choices of the last couple thousand years.
Monday, April 10, 2006
To whomever it might be of interest. I really am trying to get at the topic listed at my last post. My busy season is upon me but I have a few good windows in the coming two weeks. Should be plenty of time to get a serious post up. In the meantime, anybody ever have a dog they really liked? We had eleven good years that ended peacefully a few years ago.
Above, we were moving back from California where I'd been working at river rafting and construction for 7 years. That was 14 years ago. So the dog's been gone about three years now. I don't miss him anymore, I thought I'd just fill up some space with a little of my available photo history.
The good old Sierra Nevadas
Tuolemne river canyon.
Too much sunshine.
Trying to figure out how to get the people on the rock, and their boat that's buried against it in the water beneathe them, back up and running downstream again, before dark.
Monday, March 27, 2006
I gravitated over to the chapter on election and, as I'm sure he would put it, I am going to 'cavil' my way through it, point by point, until he has made his point and I have made mine; for the sole purpose of then knowing what he believes, and what I believe, concerning the revealed word of God which we both share. I wish I had much more time than I do to put toward this, but I don't, so this will not go very fast; but it will lack nothing in the way of patience and ordinary standards of thoroughness, and hopefully lead to a greater understanding and comfort between myself and those of my brothers and sisters in Christ who prefer to adhere to any Calvinist beliefs which I may not.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Paul's words from 2 Corinthians chapter 4 are all highlighted in bold.
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,
but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
The devil, in and amongst the ministry's workings, is doing his best to get in the way.
~...in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
All that Paul primarily needs to do in his ministry is point to the recently risen Savior as Whom the One God was pointing towards through His entire history.
~For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.
For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
The Lord has been raised, and ultimately, he, and they, and all believers, will all be together with Him!
~...knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.
Now Christ was using Paul's heart as 'command central' to work from, yet, the rest of Paul was just a decaying earthen vessel, afflicted in every way.
~So death works in us, but life in you.
And Paul told everyone that his affliction should produce in them, not despair, but, the opposite. Because through the power of God, and gospel of Christ, the Light had now entered the hearts of all who believe and who managed to out-maneuver the devil's attempts at their blinding, so that the life of Jesus Christ might be manifested in their body, renewing their inner man day by day. And therefore, not to lose heart.
~Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
And then he takes your breath away, and says:
~For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,...
He also lets us know, by using Psalm 116, that now we can approach God, through the glory of Christ, in a similar way to which David had.
~But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE," we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.
The Lord inclines His ear to us and hears our voice. We can call upon the name of the Lord to save our lives from the cords of death and the terrors of Sheol. He extends His grace and preserves the simple and those who are brought low by the thought of separation from Him, His compassion, mercy and righteousness. The Lord has dealt bountifully with us and all we have to do is lift up the cup of salvation.
~I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live. The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then called upon the name of the Lord: "O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!" Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yes, our God is compassionate. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I believed when I said, "I am greatly afflicted." I said in my alarm, "All men are liars." What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.
To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord.
So let's now lift up the cup of salvation and say with them:
"Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb"..."Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen" as in Revelation 7 chapter 12.
And then Paul says that which, to me, are startling and revealing words:
For all things are for your sakes, so the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Now that's glory.
2 Cor. 3:16
But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
And God's glory abounds through the giving of thanks.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Whatever is claiming to have its basis in the knowledge and wisdom of God is going to have to pass the test of His criteria.
From Proverbs 8:
"Listen, for I will speak noble things; and the opening of my lips will reveal right things."
"For my mouth will utter truth; and wickedness is an adomination to my lips."
"All the utterances of my lips are in righteousness; there is nothing crooked or perverted in them."
"They are all straightforward to him who understands; and right to those who find knowledge."
"I, wisdom, dwell in prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion."
This is my greatest fear going in...
"Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,..."
"But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. "
Thursday, February 23, 2006
There truly is a bit of faith we must have in "the" faith that I had in mind which we must have to fill in our exegetical deficiencies isthe faith required of us that appeared along with the arrival of Jesus Christ. The faith Paul refers to below.
Gal. 3:23 “But before faith came, we were kept under the custody of the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed”.
That new object of our faith is a part of the mystery which was not revealed in the promise to Abraham. Although, Abraham had a broader faith than in just God’s promise which was in God being the one and only true God. The new faith that came was faith that will lead them to instead of Canaan, to the kingdom of God. The faith that Paul was once trying to destroy. A faith that makes us now sons of God. The new household of the faith which replaced the old. A faith no longer based on the assurance of an unseen promise but things able to be seen in the form of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. God revealed more of His unfolding will to us, part of which was, that now we have to behold His Son and have faith. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life”.
The faith which was revealed to us in the ressurection of Christ is different than the faith in a promise, but it too, provides us with the sufficiency to ascertain God’s truth withaccurateness through exegetics. His Son gave us a very finite amount of words and information, all true and complete in themselves. He also left us wanting to know more about a lot of things. Seems like He did supply us with, as Paul says in 1 Cor., “the things freely given to us by God”, as well as things unrecorded, suggested in John’s remark which went something like, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written”. He’s freely given us all things which pertain to what He thinks we should know, and there is yet much left to wonder about that we would like to know.
Even Peter saw some things would be a struggle for us to understand: Peter remarks in 2Pt 3:16 about “some things hard to understand…” Even John suggests that God has told us what He feels is necessary and didn’t tell us a great deal more. 1 Jn 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
James suggests that we remain uncertain, although not to questions of any import. James says in 4:14, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
Paul explains to Timothy, “We can be sure about life and immortality through the gospel“, 2 Tm:110. But many of the details are not forthcoming. Christ is the knowledge and wisdon of God, and Peter reiterates “…who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God”. In my opinion, the life, death and reserrection of Christ is the greatest example of the knowledge of God we have available to us.
God certainly told Job that there were alot of things he would never know. He told Him that He was presumptuous to thing he even could know. God finally told us “where is the way to the dwelling of light?” but He also pointed out to Job that he would NOT know.
So I see how many questions man desires to answer for himself by means of exhaustive exegesis will not be able to be answered with certainty because the information we have is not complete. And that proof which I do cite in this comment is not thorough by any means, but will certainly start one on the way to the understanding how man is tempted to, and indeed truly does, try and over-reach in his exegetical endeavors.
The world, the flesh and the devil are certainly factors that interfere with man’s exegesis of God’s written truth. Aside from satan prowling the earth like Peter says, here are some other inklings that there are things “warring against our souls” and preventing us from getting to the bottom of the truth together.
“But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations knowing that they produce quarrels.”
“...known the sacred writing of scripture which are able to give you wisdom that leads tosalvation through faith….so that we may be adequate and equipt for every good work.” 2Tm 3:15-17. They do not equip us for omniscience.
Peter describes his job in 2 Pt 1:16 as making “known the power and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ”, to which he was a witness. That power and coming is salvation to all who believe. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men… 2Tm 1. Things were heard and then subsequently misused by men to start numerous conflicting Christian traditions and conflicting denominations.
Peter points to things that will complicate the message when referring to, “The fleshly lusts which war against the soul “. And the devil, “enticing unstable souls”, 2 Peter. But still not preventing the Spirit from prevailing and teaching the truth of God in His word to the ‘workman’ who rightly divides the word of God..
But the obvious problem of men’s inability to agree with one another on exegetical meaning remains a glaring obstacle to a unified Body of Christ, and to it’s growth, and as an abomination to the Lord.
What I cannot conclude is that God’s word cannot be accurately interpreted by Christians because of the flesh, the world and the devil, or that there is truth which we cannot know and therefore must simply trust Him on, but I can conclude that ‘agreement’ on the meaning of major aspects of God’s truth is unlikely by Christians, by virtue of the fact that disagreement is so widespread, and if anything, getting worse, shown by more and more lines of fracture among the already divided denominations and differing theological camps. And it is unlikely precisely, in my opinion, for reasons instigated by, the world,the flesh and the devil. And more. Presenting, I believe, serious obstacles to unifying Christain thought, than we may believe, with consequences more grievous to the Lord than I think many of us are ready to accept.
Friday, February 17, 2006
This blog of mine focuses on the estrangement that can be felt amongst believers when they venture below the surface conversation and attempt to enjoy with one another the richness and excitement of God's word and God's plan . My area of focus in this post is my experience with Calvinism.
The heartbreak which gradually came forth after all too often witnessing the failure of Christians to reach agreement on the acceptable interpretation of God's word, or exegesis of God's word, and the resulting dismay and horror, is finally tapering off into a resigned understanding of the dynamics of what is really going on in the Christian world as many of us stand alienated from one another in our beliefs. And of course this is nothing new. But I had no idea that the problem of clashing biblical interpretations is worse now than it ever has been and only portends, to me, to continue to get worse. Even apart from the biblical context of 'men being vulnerable to every wind of doctrine that comes along', or the many biblical warnings of what will be happening to doctrine in the 'last days', there is a separate, prevailing , and longstanding problem of man's inability to agree on accurate bible interpretation. We have texts that we can place 'in use' at the time of the apostles, during the time the bible was being written, in plain Greek, and know what was said, but cannot come to agreement on what was meant. This is nothing new, but, what in the world is really going on here?
The area of theology that most recently insisted upon making its differences with my understanding of God's word known is Calvinism. I always thought that Calvinism was some historical relic which finally passed with the early American Puritans. I knew, academically, that there were major differences between Christians who believe that God gave us a free and active will, and those adherents to the theologist named John Calvin who don't, but I only recently saw what happens when the two differing interpretations try and occupy the same Christian sphere.
My observations of Calvinism are that, accurate biblical understanding is attainable only through Calvin. You ask a Calvinist what he believes and he refers you to Calvinist doctrine. When asked to point to a clear passage of scripture that explains an assertion of theirs, you may wind up with an illustration that slightly tweaks the hearers mind, if that hearer has not already been taught by, or taught by someone else who was already been taught the Calvinist view.
I cannot get basic Calvinist doctrinal meaning from scripture. I try to extract biblical truth plainly with their doctrine and I am unable to do it without first being indoctrinated with a layer of presuppositions I first must ingest, that are reaching far too far, and cannot be relied upon as they stand. When you are lucky enough to have a verse or two given you in proof of a Calvinist assertion, much of the time the conclusions seem to me to be speculative, and without immediate and unmistakable relevance.
Calvinist thinking is terribly strange to my experience in scripture. It invariably turns everything into an all or nothing affair; everything is either black or white. Their interpretation of the sovereignty of God is a very rigid, controllable sort of sovereignty which, to me, disregards most of the personality of God which God unfolds to us throughout the story of His creation to now. Sovereignty that predetermines everything in advance to the extent that it leaves man with no degree of free will, leaves man with no substance by which he can learn about God from the bible and then either chose to obey, by listening to, remembering and acknowledging Him, as our Father and Creator, as He asks us to do, or chose not do so, and be disposed of. Calvinists are terrified that man will 'boast' if he possess any ability whatsoever to believe or have God-given faith and then respond to God on his own. They see man as being able to create nothing, lest it would take glory from God as supreme Creator, as if anything man could 'create' would in any way be in the same sense as God 'creating' something. And as if, being able to merely identify God as being who He tells us He is, would give us opportunity to boast of something we have done. Just about every mental function man may be capable of doing toward God is precluded by Calvinism. Well, fair enough then.
And...to each his own, then,...right? Well, no, that doesn't work for me or Christ either. First of all I'm faced with someone telling me that I have the message of God all backwards, and secondly, it leaves the body of Christ in disarray. Was John Calvin at all concerned with the further fragmentation within the body and mind of Christ when he manufactured and imposed upon people his theological theories? I think he could not have been. It should have been obvious from the experience of the Roman catholic church down through history all of the nasty ramifications which that can have.
When I'm told by someone of the Calvinist persuasion that I have the message of God backwards, well, here we go all over again. How in the world did it wind up so convoluted?
And it does not even matter, to a Calvinist, what I believe, because it's not important what I think of the word of God, it's already been predetermined that I'm already either in or out. And I cannot know which, and there is nothing I can do about it.
I was unlucky enough to see John 6 interpreted in a very confusing way by a Calvinist gentleman just recently. I was out doing a field study and I pretty much got what I asked for. It was not pretty. It's regarding Jesus' exchange with the Jews, in John 6, while teaching the crowd at the synagogue in Capernaum, as recapped by John. It shows Jesus telling about how "all that the Father gives to me will come to Me,...". It was explained to me through Calvinist doctrine that, "all who are given will come, behold, believe, and be raised". They are already saved in advance, being predestined, and the 'beholding' and 'believing' is all incidental. I was told nothing is dependent upon 'beholding' and 'believing', and in fact someone who are not predestined could 'come', and 'behold', and 'believe', and not be raised, or saved, because they were not 'given' to start with. Here is the Calvinist's explanation for that. But first, here is John 6:35-40:
"Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
"But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
"This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
I suggested that we simply did not have enough information in the passage to know exactly when or how the 'giving' takes place but simply that it does, as it must, before the Son can raise up a believer with Him. But we can rely on what we already know from the rest of the New Testament to fill in our understanding of the 'giving' referred to in the passage. The Calvinist was adamant that the 'giving' had to precede the 'beholding' and 'believing' in the Son. In other words, the person was saved even before he beheld the Son and believed. The following is a quote offered to me from the Calvinist, albeit not in its perfect context, nonetheless, self-explanatory enough to explain the 'giving' in the passage of John 6:
"Again, you are mistaking specifications with qualifications. Jesus specifies his statements, but he does not qualify them. All who are given will be raised. Therefore, all who are given will come, believe, behold, and be raised. The first statement necessitates the latter. "
Thank goodness he is there to save me from my mistaking what Jesus plainly says. But, no thank you, all the same. I cannot put the 'giving' as the sole criteria for being raised. Because Jesus also palinly states, "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I myself will raise him up on the last day". Jesus places those clear requirements for being 'raised' all very neatly into one self-explanatory sentence. I'm not sure how exactly where or how the 'giving' happens in the line of events, and moreover, I am not going to put words in Jesus' mouth and explain it in any other way than He does in the text.
After reading that statement, it should not take much convincing that I was not able to get any clearer statement out of this individual as to how he knew exactly when or how the 'giving' was taking place, or a tenable answer as to how the 'giving' could take place, and therefore, the raising already be decided, before the 'beholding' and 'believing'. Much hangs in the difference of these two interpretations, yet, clarity was not attained when arriving at the conclusion as to why"...all who are given will come, believe, behold, and be raised". In fact, concluding that the 'giving' determines the 'believing', oversimplifies the nature of God's plan and causes serious contradiction with other scripture, and upheaval amongst the fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Was Calvin reacting towards scripture or against the pope? John Calvin was a wonderful apologist for Protestantism in defiance of the Roman catholic church, brilliantly learned and articulate, formulating theories on scripture that are still very intimidating and nearly convincing even today as you can see in the very intellectually gifted people postulating right in line with Calvin's extensive original expositions. But his theories on the total depravity of man, the Holy Commonwealth with all of it open 'tests of faith', rigid predetermination, are overzealous. Is it as it seems, that Calvin was reacting to the turbulence of his times, with an amazing intellect that just lost sight of the all-important prescription to strive to attain to the unity of one body and the one mind of Christ?
Romans 15:5, "Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Jesus Christ, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
With doctrine like Calvin's you are going to wind up having Christians with non-Calvinist views needlessly alienated from ones with, both entrenched in opposing camps, one against the other.
I find myself having to put faith in either God, or Calvin, and not being able to do both.
Alright then, enough scolding, enough hindsight and drama, but what of now? I mentioned in a previous post in this blog that Calvin and others like him who came before and after, have suceeded in helping to make corrections in scriptural waywardness, but all of them had their glaring flaws and could not stand alone. And now we may have to do something on our own that perhaps none of them had taught, and that is to determine to work consciously towards being of the same mind with one another according to Jesus Christ. That doesn't mean we don't disagree on things, it just means, on all the major biblical principles, we recognize that there is just one right answer, one truth, the one in the bible, and we strive for it together, knowing that, subsequently, with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and perhaps, bring more glory to God than there has ever been amongst His children since the beginning. And that's where the pipedream begins, and reality ends, I suppose. But I'm going to go with the pipe dream because that's what the bible says to do.
I am slowly becoming able, actually finding the time that is, to make some sense out of my own personal exegetical differences with people who are 'of Calvin'. Simple differences in bible interpretation, which lead to the coming away with conclusions which do not mesh. There is something very unusual going on with the Calvinist theology, in my opinion, and I'm going map it out to myself, here in this blog, for my own clearer understanding, in order to have something to refer to in the future, whenever I am confronted with these messy issues of Calvin. Just to give aid and comfort to my very inadequate memory. And also to give aid and comfort to anyone else in the world of Christian conversation who may see something similar going on. All the enjoyment and love of the Word to you.
Monday, January 30, 2006
"Apart from exegetics, we have no knowledge of the gospel, of who Christ is, of what salvation is like, and of what the effect is to be when the gospel is applied to the life of the believer."
We are apart from God. Exegetics is also apart from God. God brings us into reconciliation with Himself through providing His Son to us for the purpose of bringing us into a relationship with Him that allows us to be in His presence. Let's not forget that exegetics is a man-made science which we use to look back at the words of the church fathers and ascertain, as close as we can, what they said. Or much more importantly what those God inspired authors were told. Even in that way, exegetics is especially limited in rendering an understanding that is complete by itself, in light of these statments of Paul's in 1 Cor. 2:
10[b](T)For to us God revealed them (U)through the Spirit;
. 12Now we (X)have received, not the spirit of (Y)the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
13which things we also speak, (Z)not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
1 Cor. 6-7:
6Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are (A)mature; a wisdom, however, not of (B)this age nor of the rulers of (C)this age, who are (D)passing away;
7but we speak God's wisdom.
4and my message and my preaching were (F)not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of (G)the Spirit and of power,
5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on (H)the power of God.
I think God just spoke for Himself.
Nothing stated here is suggesting we should discard exegetics. Nor that anybody even wants to. However, exegetics can be right and it can be wrong, depending on it's practice in the fallen hands of any given man.
One of the problems during our practicing of exegetics is, we don't always do our business by doing what God said above, "...combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words".
The apostles could not always refer to, when given the available words in our fallen world, find one to convey God's Spirit-worldly intended meaning. Much of the time the apostles are actually introducing semantic definition and ideas within their message that hitherto did not exist, laying the groundwork for a new dictionary of words which only the bible has the definitions for, and therefore would be beyond the reach of any Greek lexicon or Hebrew dictionary.
In many cases the apostles were semantically incorrect, in our terms, but in all cases, do render their final intended meaning clearly with their surrounding statements.
The main problem in exegetics is that certain issues and meanings will never be agreed upon, within the practice of exegetics. The finest exegetes in the world now and forever will disagree. For that reason, I believe, exegetics, as a science, must fall into a subcategory, in the pursuit of meaning, within a larger body of discernment. It's all about discernment. And prudence. I'm surely not going to do a very good job clarifying those two virtues here, but possibly in some future posts I can have some fun and build on what I can extract from the bible about them. I'm simply trying to remove some roadblocks placed in front of the average believer by poorly done exegetics which may cause that believer to stumble in his efforts to cut through the confusion when seeking biblical Truths. I certainly do not claim to have the whole scheme figured out yet, and frankly I'm sure I never will have it completely, but in general, what I've said here appears to me to be accurate, and a fine starting point to continue from, while proceeding down the bramble infested highway of Christian growth.
The mind of the person in the opening illustration of this post is unduly empowering himself when he speaks,"Apart from exegetics,we have no knowledge of the gospel, of who Christ is, of what salvation is like, and of what the effect is to be when the gospel is applied to the life of the believer". And by assuming power in that fashion it is taking over control of the self contained and self empowered truths of the bible. What we have in this speaker is a very powerful human mind that has not grasped the well seasoned discernment it needs to aquire before it can properly apply exegetics towards biblical Truths.
Exegetics is a critical aid if we are to understand God's word, but poorly done, it can be useless. Dead. Poorly done exegetics can leave people with dangerous man-made conclusions involving the message of God's Word that may hinder the work of the Spirit in them and hinder their understanding of what Christ was sent here to do for them. So be careful.
I'm out of time so here are some proverbs that are truly enjoyable for me to contemplate with regards to the studying of the whole bible, therby allowing the Lord to speak its single meaning to us on His own terms.
Hope this stimulated as much thought in you as in me. Thanks for looking in. Any feedback would be relished, especially more in the way of critical counsel or correction, than in the way of agreement. Some edification please. No desire to debate, just to be corrected, insightfully, and share, and grow and be reconciled, towards the goal "of us all being in the one mind of Christ" which He asks us to strive after.
Those proverbs I mentioned:
God refers to the urtterances of His mouth saying "They are all straightforward to him who understands,..."
"and all desirable things cannot compare with her (wisdom)".
"On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found"
"Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,..." It just makes you pause and
think doesn't it.
"I, wisdom dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion."
"From everlasting I was established...when He established the heavens I (wisdom) was there".
"a false balance is an abomination to the Lord". Watch your perspective.
"The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger". If He is referring to food, then He would feel even moreso about spiritual food. Jesus said "I am the True bread from heaven...", "Those who eat of Me will never hunger."
"But we have the mind of Christ". That is quite a gift.
Monday, January 23, 2006
34. Spirit of Vatican II Says: January 23rd, 2006 at 3:16 am
We wander in what Todd Saunders, above, calls the circular theological trap, like flies trying to find their way out of the fly-bottle.
What is missing is consultation of what the Council called THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
The Gospel articulates itself truly only within open dialogue with the questions of contemporary humankind. A self-contained Christian discourse is by that very token false, an idol.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The blogisphere is by far the best means yet for dissecting ideas with others on-line. No more or no less useful than the care and attention given it by those who use it. Therefore, a lot of wasteful arguing often ensues. I remember at one point in my twenties watching Phil Donahue quite a bit and seeing, show after show, the crowd never working toward a resolution of the question at hand. How tiresome that got. How without any use that is. Since there was no agreement even being strived for most of the time, I couldn't justify wasting my time getting all worked up over the issues when noone was really looking for a solution, but only for things to be seen their way.
The same thing happens in the blogisphere. Luckily, in the Christian blogisphere we can refer to the Truth. The bible. Our God tells us He is not the God of confusion. So if what a person finds themselves saying in these blogs is confusing, or not clearly backed up by scripture, or is backed up by scripture but simply not being represented clearly by that person, then how worthwhile is your time being spent? Perhaps you should be studying more and talking less, therby letting the whole of your studies in God's word season inside of you a bit. As long as you see how He is the Truth, the Way, and the Life, then you have the most important victory available to you. That's why I try to be quiet. That's when I learn the most. That took me a long time to learn and primarily through time after time making a fool of myself by speaking too soon. I can still do that. I'm sure it will be a lifelong battle to learn how to wait until I've weighed my words carefully before I turn them loose.Very few things are as important as that.
I have a funny way of blogging. I tend to come back to a post for days after I have posted it and fine tune it and fine tune it. It is a record of my thoughts about something that I am trying to say as completely and effectively as possible, oftentimes for my own future reference. So with that in mind, the following is a comment I posted on the comment page of someone elses blog. It doesn't really matter where or even what the question was. It took me an hour to write and I want to preserve alot of the thoughts contained in it about debating things in the bible that are less than clear, and my opinion on part of the approach we as Christians need to keep in mind, as we dialogue on what the bible says to us individually.
I find it unsettling and disheartening that when I meet other Christians and want to share in conversation about things in Gods word that each of us finds exciting, that we can't, because we don't believe in the same thing. That we're talking from different theologies, or differing bible translations or some other difference. People get defensive. That's wrong. Christian biblical truth has been muddled by many great thinkers who stopped short of trying to strive to be of one mind, that is ultimately Christ's, as He has instructed us to do. He tells us we have the mind of Christ. I suppose that is a combination of having God's word and the Holy Spirit to help us understand the wisdom and knowledge that is contained in it. He is not a God of confusion and fragmentation. There are a lot more sensible things to be said on the subject than I am going to say right here, that's for sure, but this, and what follows, is a start.
I think if we all went by "what we can know for sure" from the bible, then we would be attaining more closely to "the unity of the one mind of Christ". It's terribly easy to speculate further about the real meanings of God's word that are not real clear, and in my opinion, harmless if done in the right way, but is also sternly warned against. And some very sensible arguements are made against speculating (I use the word "speculations" from the NASB) as well, by the apostles that should be easily understood. We want to know it "all" though, as the presently fleshly children of God, and it can be very divisive. The average person covets that power of all-knowledge. With very bright men all through history, it has been shown that their modest power can go wildly wrong. But at least we've stopped slaughtering each other over it for the time being.
My point is that there is much more that we wish we could know than we have been permitted to know given the information revealed to us by God, by His design I believe, and we have to contain ourselves wisely in the zealous pursuit to know more of it. Yet, instead, we tend to fret about it and warn each other Christians about our own imaginings and speculations. That is a wasteful fleshly undertaking which has gained almost truthlike acceptance, to me testifying also to the abundance of mutually unaccepting denominations.
There is nothing more enlightening and productive than active dialogue and even lively debate towards growth and understanding of God's word. But then draw back and conclude in what we can know for sure and letting each man struggle with the unknowable in his own way. This battle of theologies we are in in the Christian world, to me is a classic example of being "in Apollos" or "in Cephas" or "in Paul" or "in Calvin". We are told, and have seen, it causes problems. It caused big problems for the Anabaptists in Calvin's day as well as many others. That's a dramatic example, but how is a person sopposed to process all of that history. Calvin got some big ones wrong! Some of his conclusions are revolting to other Christians when put alongside other things we are told by God, for sure, about salvation, assurance, the sinful nature, etc. And his speculations have caused alot of unrest in the body of Christ. They have helped many but might their absence have helped many more? Now, I have but little other choice than to speculate myself.
It seems to me that today there are "Calvinist's" who see the incompleteness of Calvin's ideas and are trying to pick up where he left off and attempt to complete his ideas. That is a worthwhile undertaking. It is just hard to watch the continued fall out amongst Christians from his radical views.
So let us know what we can know, but demand that it pass the test of scripture. If it's not made clear then we are fools to suppose to finish God's work for Him. If it's not made clear by Him then don't give it undue importance that does not come from Him.
There is only one Truth, one right answer. I think sometimes we "think that away" in an effort to over explain things that don't need over explaining.
Divergent viewpoints can be healthy and they can be destructive, even fatal. (I need to find some scripture to back that up, I think it's there somewhere).
Just some points to ponder.
...Yearning for that peace in the Body of believers that is probably not reasonable to think will come on this earth until that great day.
Until that great day, Todd
See you next time!
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
It strikes me, in the small amount of time that I've been able to devote towards understanding Cvt. Th., that it is weighted down by the appearance to me that it is some of God's students trying to solve a riddle. It simply renders God's word as too much of a riddle for which we cannot be sure of the answer. It seems as though the answers to the problem of the lack of certainty of meaning in the lesser clear areas of God's word, which are maybe more numerous than not, are attempted to be answered by many great men coming up with great ideas about great possibilities of meaning . Many of the great thinkers differing from one another. Almost like, in their striving, they are trying too hard. Proving their own minds but not doing enough for the general Christian consciousness that is looking at the same word of God; giving something for people to work from but too often something incomplete to cling to as well. I can't help but have come to my mind the early Calvinist's burning of all of the Anabaptist's who were of no use to them in waging holy war.
My stating this in this way is certainly not fair to Cvt. Th. folks. It's one-sided. But this is my opinion and I consider Cvt. Th's. to be my cherished brothers in faith. This is not even intended to be a criticism, we all know we have our doctrinal differences, and even what they are, I'm just musing and getting a few thoughts down, and therby hoping for you to know me a little fuller. Your brother... thanks to God.
I've weighed Calvinism and Arminianism and Lutherinism and all of the ism's and see intellectually gifted men who were able to help right the course of misguided collective mainstream Christianity during their time, and all of them, simply get some parts of the Word just flat wrong. So it seems clear that you would not to fully align yourself with any of them but be well advised by all of them, continueing on down the path they've helped to correct.
I see theology as a science. Science has limitations. We have to read too much into science for it to have anything more than practical limited use. Science is a blessing in the way that it has much practical, earthly utility. There is so much more that we can't know. It's fun to guess but while we are guessing, know that we are guessing. Thankfully, all of the important things, we can truly know.
Don't get so bold with your theology as to try and clarify things that are not. They will prevail and remain unclear. I'm speaking now to all people who have spent years of excitement hungering over God's word and desiring to please Him, and trying to study and obey His gospel. How much are we supposed to know? Volumes and then it stops, leaving the most tantilizing questions unanswered. That's our answer. We are expected to know much; that is, to know God through His word and through His Son, and then, to just be assured. To be assured, in spite of the rest of our unknowing. Might that we all would remember to rest together in that faith. As much as possible, along the way home, together.
Looking forward with hope and faith, Todd