Theological Thoughts

Greg Bahnsen’s Helpful Reminder

In the first introductory lecture on Political Ethics, Greg Bahnsen reminded his students that there are three main types of Christians: Doctrinarians, pietists, and transformationalists. Bahnsen reminded his students that if we isolate any one of those qualities we fail in our calling. The problem, according to Bahnsen, is when we are forced to make a decision without realizing that these are connected realities of a mature Christian expression.

We need a theology of rest

Marva Dawn has been one of the most gifted voices into my own life. Over the years I have been struck by her profound insights into worship, and her counsel to bathe our souls in the psalms. In preaching through the psalms this Lenten Season, I have been meditating on her book I’m Lonely, Lord–HOW LONG? Her Lutheran background offers helpful liturgical observations as she works through many of the psalms of lament. In a section entitled YHWH Understands Even Betrayal, Dawn pauses to meditate on the poetry of Psalm 55. She focuses her attention on the importance of rest, and concludes:

“We Christians need a better theology of rest. We are often so eager to serve the LORD or are so caught up in our occupations or projects that we forget to balance our work with genuine rest. Somehow we have neglected the importance of the First Testament Sabbath in our New Testament faith. The Jews worked hard for six days and rested on the seventh. They recognized the rhythms of life; they realized that we need space to be restored, to rest, to find healing.”

{Dawn, Marva, pg. 45)

Sanders and Covenant Nomism

In one of the most scholarly works against Sanders’ thesis, entitled Justification and Variegated Nomism (two volumes)D.A. Carson concludes:

“One conclusion to be drawn, then, is not that Sanders is wrong everywhere, but he is wrong when he tries to establish that his category (of covenantal nomism) is  right everywhere.”

Though many non-New Perspective advocates have come to acknowledge that Palestinian Judaism was not universally characterized by a works-righteousness world view, yet it does appear that Sanders has made first century Judaism into a universal grace-system, thus overlooking the diversity within Second Temple Judaism. Carson is correct to assert that much of ancient Judaism is “widely infected with a legalistic works-righteousness.”

No Such Thing as Solo Glory

Fellow CREC Pastor, Toby Sumpter, concludes:

There is no such thing as solo glory. There is only glory in community, glory bestowed and received. When Jesus calls us to be light, He’s calling us to serve one another, and to look for ways to do good to those around us. That’s how our Spirit-light shines. It shines when we glorify others, when we serve them, bless them, and meet their needs. This always means that we must die like Adam, go down into a deep sleep, and trust that God will raise us up to glory. When Adam named His wife, he spoke the first poem in all of human history. His naming was not only a blessing; his name was spoken beautifully. And when we serve our neighbors and do good deeds before men, we should do so in order to make the world a more beautiful place, in order to bring more glory to our Father in heaven.

Glory

We have glory. We are image bearers, which means we share the glory of the Triune God. We are made partakers of the divine image. We are glory, and becoming glorified. Glory is given, not earned. Jesus takes this glory at Transfiguration revealing that he is the new Adam. The old Adam lost his glory and ours. Jesus is the glory of the Father, and so gives us this glory as his children.

Wilderness comes to Synagogue

The modern situation of the church can be summarized by the theme: “The Wilderness comes to the Synagogue.” This what we see in the inception of the kingdom ministry of Jesus (Mk.1). Jesus overcomes the devil in the desert. The desert is symbolic for its lifelessness, but now death comes into the holiness of the worship place, as Jesus battles the unclean spirit in the synagogue. Similarly, the disgrace of modern worship is the assumption that the arid and lifeless environment of the wilderness can be brought into the church without compromising the holiness of the church.

To Die

Our God is not a slave master seeking to work us to death, but rather to die in our working as we humble ourselves and learn to forsake our sins, and follow after Jesus.

Epiphany Re-Gathering

The Epiphany season is a babelic reversal. It does not contain the fullness of the Pentecost reversal, but it is the beginning of this undoing. Babel was meant to be a flood-proof structure and empire. Jesus opens the flood gates, so the Gentiles may enter in.

The Fullness of Advent

Advent means Christ dressed himself in human flesh and became man for us that we might become true humans for him. But Advent also entails a fuller picture. The Advent signifies past, present, and future comings. Christ came under the law, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin Mary, but He also promises to come triumphantly for us each Lord’s Day gathering, and to come again at the end of history. Advent needs to keep all these comings in mind.

The Christ and Adam Teams

Robert Letham writes that we are addressed not merely as “discrete individuals; instead, we are placed by God in solidaristic groups or teams.” Adam was our head and so plunged us into sin, death, and condemnation. What Christ did for us was also as captain and head of a team of which we are part. Our justification is grounded in our union with our captain.