Sunday, 28 October 2007

BBC The Big Questions

This morning before Church I saw briefly part of the BBC One show The Big Questions.
The big question this morning was abortion, I didn't see the whole debate but the bit I did see was two ladies who had previously had abortions. Both of them had suffered extreme guilt as a result. This guilt was not placed upon them by society or the church but from within, it seems they are working to restore broken lives and are passionately anti abortion. I am not sure if they are now Christians or not, but they both understand the cost not only to themselves but to the babies they had aborted. The one lady spoke of her three children, one whom was alive the other she had killed. I felt their pain and was thankful they are dealing with it by helping others. Imagine my surprise then to hear a Church of England Bishop say, " I am not entirely against the abortion act, it is not murder, for it is only the destruction of potential life." To which the younger of the two women replied, "No it is the destruction of a life with potential." At that point I had to turn off because I could not hold back the tears. The Bishop should be leading the way on the protection of life from conception! Oh that the bishop would hear the hurt of these two ladies and repent. That God would save us from bishops who are deaf to pain, deaf to murder and deaf to God!


Saturday, 27 October 2007

Jonathan Edwards was bad

My fourth year thesis is going to be on Jonathan Edwards on sin. You might have observed that my good friend David Kirk and I completely disagree on the place of sin in the believers life. I was just reading Edwards and found this.

Again, that sin which is remaining in the hearts of the best of men on earth, makes it evident, that man's nature is corrupt, as he comes into the world. A remaining depravity of heart in the greatest of saints, may be argued from the sins of most of those who are set forth in Scripture as the most eminent instances and examples of virtue and piety: and is also manifest from this, that the Scriptures represents all God's children as standing in need of chastisement. (Heb.12: 6.7,8), "For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he recieveth... what son is he, whom the father chasteneth not? if ye are without chastisement ... then are ye bastards, and not sons." But this is directly and fully asserted in some places; as in Eccles.7:20: "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not." Which is as much to say, there is no man on earth, that is just, as to have attained to such a degree of righteousness,, as not to commit any sin. Yea, the Apostle speaks of all Christians as often sinning, or committing many sins; even in the primitive age of the Christian church, an age distinguished from all others by eminent attainments in holiness; (James 3:2) " In many things we all offend." And that there is pollution in the hearts of all, as the remainder of moral filth that was there antecedent to all attempts of means for purification.
Jonathan Edwards, Original Sin (New Haven and London: Yale),P. 137-8.
have a Blessed day, in Him

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Martin Luther was bad

We are drawing near to Reformation day or Halloween to all you pagans. As Protestants we owe a lot to the German Monk Martin Luther, who nailed his colours not to the mask but to the castle door in Wittenberg. Luther recognising that he stood condemned by the righteousness of God, hated God because he could never satisfy the laws demands. Until studying Romans he recognised that we could be righteous apart from the law. Luther said of the converted man that 'he is at one and the same time just and sinner.' Martin Luther recognised this of himself, that he was justified by the work of Christ. That Christ's death had atoned for his sin and at the same time he was a sinner. Luther also recognises in his Galatians lectures that a true Christian will show the fruit of the Spirit by doing, 'the works of the law'. Only a renewed man can do this, but a renewed man must also recognise he is still a sinner, although a justified one with the work of the Holy Spirit making him more like Jesus every day.
Martin Luther was bad and so are you.

Mark Driscoll

Dr Mike Bird J. K. told me recently that Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Seattle will be visiting Edinburgh on the 17th of November.I am now booked in to attend and am very excited! Mark is an interesting character he is the same age as me (36) and has been a pastor for a number of years. Mark was part of the emergent movement but found his peers didn't share his passion for doctrine. Mark has written two books thus far, Confessions of a Reformission Rev and Radical Reformission. Confessions is an amusing but wonderful testimony of his journey as a church planter who reached out to college age and older "adultence" (that is people that refuse to grow up). Mark quickly, and it seems painfully learnt that you have to feed people meat if you want them to grow in Christ. Mark has been attacked by emergent types for being a 5 point Calvinist fundy mentalist. He has also been attacked by 5 point Calvinists who agree with his soteriology but not his style or his relationship to culture. John Stott in his book I believe in Preaching and in his book The Contemporary Christian argued that we have to listen to both the Bible and culture if we are going to be faithful and relevant. I wonder what Stott would make of Mark? I am currently enjoying reading Radical Reformission at a couple of pages a time (its an easy read but I have college commitments).
Thinking of which... I better go.
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Preachers and Theologians

Last week in our Ethics class Professor McGowan told us which Theologians had influenced him the most. This set me thinking to whom do I owe a debt theologically?
I have identified some people who I don't read much at all now but have helped me on the road to reformed theology.
Firstly, Martin Lloyd Jones with his clear and precise theological exegesis in his Ephesians series, I wonder if its a co-incidence that Ephesians is my favourite N.T letter. MLJ helped me understand election.
Secondly, John MacArthur helped me to discern that liberal pastors were just as bad as heretical ones, he made me realise Theology is important after all.
Thirdly Dr R.C Sproul, I love reading R.C Sproul, his books got me interested in Systematic Theology. Robert Reymond's a New Systematic Theology for the Church was easy to read because of reading Sproul.
Fourthly, John Piper helped me to understand and get (a fresh) Passion for God, that reformed theology is not dry as dust but it is wonderful because it points to the all glorious God. Along a similar line Wayne Grudem's introduction to Systematic Theology has been a big help in seeing a warmth to Systematics and I love the way Grudem ties it all up biblically, after all the greatest theologians are the prophets, apostles and our LORD himself.
There are many others who I love now but it is through the writings and preaching of the men above that I have grown to love the Puritans etc.

So who are the big Theological influences in your life?

Thursday, 11 October 2007

John Newton's epitaph

Yesterday a couple of us were discussing in the common room about how we in the church elevate offices and office bearers. We find this attitude when people in the congregation elevate either the minister, elders or deacons, this is one thing, it is even worse when they do it themselves. Contrast this with John Newton a man used of God in revival, and a big influence within the movement to end the slave trade. Yet Newton was always aware of what he was, a great sinner that God had saved by grace. His Epitaph states: "John Newton, Clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy." It is important to me to always remember that although I enjoy the privilege of studying God's word here in HTC that I am a sinner saved by grace. As I wasn't brought up in a Christian home I can see the difference that grace is working within that I was a wretch and that it is only God's grace that will lead me home.

May God Bless You

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Is John Piper Bad?

Last week in my reply to my fellow HTC Student (and curry chomping buddy) David Kirk, I recommended that he read, John Murray's book 'Principles of Conduct' in support of John Piper's statement that "he is bad and so are you." Sadly Murray's book argues to the contrary which will teach me not to recommend a book I am only half way through. Murray in the chapter a New Dynamic argues with Paul that the Old Man has been put to death, not being put to death, but actually dead. Sin no longer has dominion over us. Although we do still sin, Augustine said it was now possible for the renewed man not to sin. Which is contrasted with the unregenerate man who always sins. So John Piper might not be bad after all when compared to the old nature and those around us. Yet when we consider ourselves next to God's full holiness, then we see every spot and wrinkle and we see that we are still sinners. 'We are not what we used to be, nor are we what we ought to be, one day we shall be before him and be as he is because we shall see him has he is.' (paraphrase of John Newton).
God Bless
Stephen <><

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

John Piper is bad

One of my favourite youtube videos is the 'John Piper is bad' mix I didn't know there was a cover until today!

Word Alive April 7-11, Pwllheli 2008

John Piper

Just a plug for two of my favourite speakers, if you live in the UK and are free April 7th to the 11th then you should attend the New Word Alive in Pwllheli in Wales.

The three main speakers are John Piper from Bethlehem Baptist Church,

Don Carson from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Terry Virgo from New Frontiers. I have had the privilege of hearing both John Piper and Don Carson in person and can wholeheartedly affirm that their messages will be life changing! I have not heard Terry Virgo but I am sure he'll be great too!

Terry Virgo

Back to the books

I have had a long summer without HTC, now the new term has begun in earnest so it is back to the books for me. I am taking Wisdom Lit with Dr Jamie Grant, Christian Ethics with our Principal, The Rev Professor Andrew McGowen and Dr Robert Shilaker , Guided Reading, looking at Hermeneutics in Homiletics supervised by Dr Mike F Bird Jedi Knight (as he likes to be called) and finally my dissertation on Edwards' doctrine on sin (or according to David Kirk better philosophy)supervised by Dr Robert Shilaker. I will update you on Dr Grant's class and hopefully come back at a later date with all that I have learnt throughout the semester.

As part of my honours year I am taking a 3rd year module with Dr Jamie Grant on Wisdom literature. We only started last week but I am really looking forward to this module!
Dr Grant led us through several quotes to help us understand what on earth Wisdom literature is in the first place. My Favourite was Derek Kidner 'what is implied is a single system, a universe, and what is invited is the study of it in a spirit of humility. How can we live well when all is not well in God's good but fallen world.' Wisdom was a genre belonging to the whole ANE but Israel took it and made it her own. The idea behind Wisdom literature is not the Torah but observations on life. Therefore Psalm 1 speaking of the righteous says, 'whatever they do prospers.' is not a contradiction with Psalm 73 Asaph's crisis of faith when he sees the wicked prosper (Dr Grant told us that this word in the Hebrew is Shalom, more than prosperity, they are able to sleep in peace). Asaph arrives at an answer for he understands the way of the wicked will ultimately lead to Sheol, although Wisdom literature doesn't always offer an answer, asking the questions it seems is the beginning of wisdom as well as fearing the Lord.

God Bless