Monday, October 11, 2010

Sorry for the Absence

Greetings all, I must apologize for being absent most of last week.  I had a cold and as some of you might suspect when men have colds the world is subject to stop rotating.  Now my cold was not quite that bad but it did leave me unable to think clearly.  Might have been the drugs though.

I will also be sporadic this week as well as work demands I travel out of town.  But I look forward to getting back to a regular schedule soon.


Monday, October 4, 2010

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing Pt 9

Well here we are at the conclusion of Whitefield’s sober admonition to be mindful of our speech.  He has made clear that the swearing to which he refers is not that type before magistrates so that all swearing is not unlawful.  We have also dealt on a couple other occasions what we would consider profanity here1 and here2.  

But Whitefield has in mind that swearing which is falsely offered in His name calling it “profane and heinously sinful.”  He reasons that there is no temptation in nature to this sin, nor does the commission of it afford the offender the least pleasure or satisfaction.  It is a sin which may be so often repeated.  It hardens infidels against the Christian religion, and must give great offense, and occasion much sorrow and concern to every true disciple of Jesus Christ.  And it is an extremity of sin, which can only be matched in hell.  

Here now we have the conclusion of his piece:

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing

Let me, therefore, once more address myself to every person here present, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; and if any amongst them have been any way guilty of this notorious sin of swearing, let me entreat them by all that is near and dear to them, that they would neither give the magistrate the trouble to punish, nor their friends any reason for the future to warn them against committing the crime; but keep a constant and careful watch over the door of their lips, and withal implore the divine assistance (without which all is nothing) that they offend no more so scandalously with their tongues. Let them seriously lay to heart, what with great plainness and simplicity has here been delivered: and if they have any regard for themselves as men, or their reputation as Christians; if they would not be a public scandal to their profession, or a grief to all that know or converse with them: in short, if they would not be devils incarnate here, and provoke God to punish them eternally hereafter; I say unto them in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Swear not at all."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Terminology - Orthodoxy vs. Orthopraxy

In celebration of the month of October, which happens to be my birth month, here at The Old Dead Guys we decided to look at two contrasting words.  Now we acknowledge that they do not have to be contrasting but we also note that in every life there is a certain amount, to what ever degree, of disconnect between what we believe and what we actually do.  And it is here that we will find the contrast.

Webster defines Orthodoxy as:

- Soundness of faith; a belief in the genuine doctrines taught in the Scriptures.

- Consonance to genuine scriptural doctrines; as the orthodoxy of a creed.

An of course it finds its root in being orthodox which is from the Greek ‘orthodoxos’ meaning to have the right opinion and combines othos – right, true, straight + doxa  - opinion, to think.  So that if some one is orthodox we understand that they have a correct belief based upon the evidence at hand.  This certainly means that the term orthodox is not a theological term at all but can be, and should be applied to all sorts of disciplines whether it is sports, engineering, science, or mathematics. 

But what happens when our orthodoxy does not find its way into our everyday lives or orthopraxy?  Webster did not define orthopraxy so we went to Wiktionary where Orthopraxy is defined as:

- Correct practice or action.

Now we equally acknowledge that you can display a correct action without having a correct belief.  But what ever we make of these two words independently, in conjunction with one another they certainly mean that ‘praxy without a correct ‘doxy is most likely done in error but also that a sound ‘doxy without it working into a proper ‘praxy is certain to be in error.

Together they combine the right belief, orthodoxy, with right practice, orthopraxy so that they compliment each other and validate our belief in Christ (1 John 2: 3–6).  This is exactly what James is referring to when he rhetorically asks can the faith that does not produce works be the kind of faith you wish to rest your salvation on? (Jas 2:14-26).

As Christians, especially Reformed Christians the right belief about Jesus must be validated by being imitators of Jesus (Lk 9: 23).  So that the condition of coming to the light of orthodoxy is to do the works of God in orthopraxy.

So among us of the Reformed faith, is the term “the frozen chosen” deserved?

Hmmm…think about it.  


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

T-shirt or Tunic

Our friends over at The Sacred Sandwich posted a piece which began us here at The Old Dead Guys to think.  The piece illustrated the differences in Christian fashion from 1555 and now.  Then it was a wool tunic and now it is a cotton T-shirt.  The piece highlighted another difference though; it showed that the Christian of the 16th century was often burned for upholding their beliefs.  The martyr depicted was John Rogers who was born at the turn of the 16th century in the area of Birmingham England and received his BA from Cambridge.

He is credited with having printed the first English bible, both OT and NT, where his contemporary, William Tyndale, would only print the NT before he was martyred.  He was granted a printing licensed to sell 1500 copies but did so under the name Thomas Matthew.  By 1553 he found himself in trouble for preaching against “pestilent Popery, idolatry, and superstition.”  Needless to say it was not a message well received by the administration of the time and his “denomination” the ‘Lollards’ was legislated against in 1554.  Yet a man so convicted upon God’s word could not nor would not be silent and he was to cheerfully be the first Protestant martyr, burned at the stake under the reign of Mary 1 “Bloody Mary” Queen of England.

So what’s that got to do with us you ask, ‘thank you, I thought you never would.’  We here in the West have enjoyed many, many years of religious freedom; we have enjoyed and be come drunk from the goodness of God.  Believing in some cases that God loves us ergo the blessing must continue.  We have been content to drop a few coins into the plate (when we had some left) that is passed for another to ‘go and bear my cross;’ content to let another bear our shame.  We count it a ‘blessing’ from God when we get back too much change or when the checkout missed that blouse or pair of socks after all God loves us.   

You see Angus highlighted far more that just the fashion difference of 1555 and now; he highlighted the fundamental difference between what it means to bear the name of Christ and just wearing Christ on your shirt.  There is a time coming that I fear is all to near when the T-shirt will be tolerated but the Tunic will not.  A time when all is tolerated except the Christian witness; the most restrictive, intolerant, and exclusive religion currently in the world, Islam, will be preferred over Christianity.  Why?  Only one reason God’s Christ.  Already men are in jail in Canada and England for preaching the “whole counsel of God’s word” where they call the “Good News” hate speech.  It will be necessary to display the Tunic or recant to the apostate T-shirt. 

So Christian, get out the Tunic, begin to practice and be ready for when the test comes…for it is coming should God tarry. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Righteous

You will no doubt remember that we stated earlier that the purpose of listing some of the attributes of God is not to give an exhaustive list or even a verbose explanation of the ones chosen.  Rather it is to present what is hoped to be a working knowledge from which we can look at the different rolls within the Godhead.  This was the result of attempting to develop a unification theory of God’s attributes which I have come to suspect is a lot like herding cats, the more you work at it the less you seem to accomplish.  You will also no doubt think “Hmmm, some of these sound alike” and you would be correct some do sound alike yet certain distinctions must be made.  For instance some might think that God’s holiness is akin to His righteousness but I think that would be a mistake.

Webster’s 1828 states of Righteous:

1. Just; accordant to the divine law.
2. Just; equitable; merited.

When applied to persons, it denotes one who is holy in heart, and observant of the divine commands.  The Scriptures calls this a righteous man.  When applied to things, it denotes agreement or harmony to/with the God’s will or justice.  The Scriptures see this as a righteous act.  However, in theology it is chiefly used, and applied to God and to the attainment of His followers, called saints.

Oddly enough the saint of God is not commanded directly to be righteous yet we are commanded to be holy.  In fact the Scriptures are replete with the command to “be holy.”  I think the reason for this is two fold.  First, righteousness flows from holiness, and second, righteousness has been imputed upon us as believers.  Conditionally we are not righteous but positionally we are.  And here’s what I mean.  Our present condition in bodies of flesh prevents us from being righteous; Paul makes that clear in Rom 7:7-25.  However, positionally we are righteous as we have had Christ’s righteousness imputed to us.  The Scriptures present this in a negative form in Rom 4:7-8 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”  So that our righteous is the character or quality of being right or just even though it is not our righteousness but it has been given to us as an act of sovereign grace.  

However, the righteousness of God could be briefly stated as that which is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves, and all that He provides through Christ in the gospel (Ro 1:16-17).  God is always righteous and His righteousness causes Him to always think and do what is right or act in perfect goodness in relation to His creation.  He will always do what is right.  God’s love and mercy must be harmonized with His righteousness which cannot be compromised and this necessary harmony results in His justice.  The book of Romans emphasizes the righteousness of God and shows that God is righteous in His dealings with both sinners and believers.  The righteousness of God is the theme of the gospel message. 
God’s righteousness, was perfectly fulfilled by Christ incarnate and yet rejected by sinning humanity.  It is imputed to the sinner who repents and believes in the Lord Jesus, and will be manifested in practical ways in the life of the Christian.  The righteousness of God in one sense it speaks of God’s holy hatred of sin.  In the early 1500s, Martin Luther sat in the tower of the Black Cloister, Wittenberg, reading (Rom 1:17).  That expression ‘righteousness of God’ was like a thunderbolt in my heart,” Luther later wrote.  “I hated Paul with all my heart when I read that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel.”  

Luther saw God’s righteousness as an unassailable obstacle to eternal life for he was deeply aware of his own sinfulness, and he knew that because of it he was unacceptable to a righteous God.  Therefore, as he read this verse he was seized with despair.  But the second connotation of righteousness in (Rom 1:17) speaks of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which is imputed to the account of the believing sinner (Rom 4:24).  When Luther understood this sense of the righteousness provided by God through the righteousness imputed on a believing sinner's account, he finally grasped the true meaning of the gospel, and this discovery set ablaze the Protestant Reformation.


Monday, September 27, 2010

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing Pt 8

Today as we continue with part 8 of The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing by George Whitefield, we will see Mr. Whitefield address one man’s duty to his neighbor to uphold right living and to set an example of godliness before him.  This duty he states is owed both to the neighbor but also to God.  So without further delay…

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing 
George Whitefield

Matt 5:34 -- "But I say unto you, Swear not at all."

2. But further, if the sin of swearing is so exceeding heinous, and withal so common, then it is every particular person's duty, especially those that are in authority, to do their utmost towards discountenancing and suppressing so malignant a crime. The duty we owe both to God and our neighbor, requires this at our hands; by the one we are obliged to assert our Maker's honor; by the other to prevent our neighbor's ruin; and it is but doing as we would be done by, and as we ourselves act in cases of lesser consequence. 

Were we to hear either our own or our friend's good name vilified [slandered, maligned] and traduced [slandered, maligned], we should think it our bounden duty to vindicate the wronged reputation of each; and shall the great, terrible, and holy name of our best and only friend, our king, our father, nay our God: shall this be daily, nay every moment, defied and blasphemed; and will no one dare to stand up in defense of his honor and holiness? Be astonished, O heavens, at this! No; let us scorn all such base and treacherous treatment; let us resolve to support the cause of religion, and with a becoming prudent courage manifest our zeal for the honor of the Lord of Hosts. 

Men in authority have double the advantages of ordinary Christians; their very office shows they are intended for the punishment of evil doers. And such is the degeneracy of mankind, that the generality of them will be more influenced by the power of persons in authority, than by the most labored exhortations from the pulpit. To such, therefore, if there are any here present, I humbly address myself, beseeching them, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to do their utmost to put a stop to, and restrain profane cursing and swearing. 

And though it must be confessed, that this is a work which requires a great deal of courage and pains, yet they would do well to consider, it is for God they undertake it, who certainly will support and bear them out in a due execution of their office here, and reward them with an exceeding and eternal weight of glory hereafter. But it is time to draw towards a conclusion.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Phil

The Arminian position has always been perplexing to me.  Even when I was one I at least attempted to logically work through what I believed.  I am glad for those who were patient with me when I was in the pupa stage of becoming a full fledged reformed thinker.  And I am certainly glad for those who now tolerate my understanding or lack thereof as I continue to work through ideas.  And I think this is where we as the reformed will make the most impact on our friends who have not yet been “converted.” In gentleness, love and much patience show them how their position is illogical.  And really it will not take a Spock intellect to do so since their position, although strongly held, is weak. 

In this week’s Friday Phil, Phil does this very thing by taking aim at the belief that God is at once sovereign and that man can over ride that sovereignty at will and refuse God.  To us we readily see the inconstancy of this position and they will too but they have so much personally invested in their position that they will not let go without persuasion and time.

So consider this classic repost from Dec 2008        

The Arminian Problem in Simple Terms
by Phil Johnson

If God knows the future with certainty, then the future is (by definition) already predetermined. If tomorrow is predetermined and you don't want to acknowledge that the plan was decreed by God, you have only two choices:

1.  Some being other than God determines the future and is therefore more sovereign than He. That is a kind   of idolatry.

2.  Some impersonal force does the determining without reason or coherence. That is a kind of fatalism.

So anyone who denies that God preordained whatsoever comes to pass but wants to avoid both fatalism and idolatry is logically compelled to deny God's omnscience.

That of course, is precisely the rationale that has led so many to embrace Open Theism.

The more sensible option—and the biblical one—would be to abandon Arminian presuppositions and acknowledge that God declared the end from the beginning, and that He works all things according to the counsel of His own will.