I’ll be blogging primarily at Coffee Rings, stop by and check us out. I will keep the Threshing Floor open, but posting here will be infrequent (as it has been for a while now).
I find it curious that frequently the most ardent opponents of Calvinism are those who have read John Calvin the least. Justin Taylor recently had a nice post on reading through the Institutes in one year, which you can find here. It reminded me of an observation Marilynne Robinson made in the Introduction to The Death of Adam, a collection of essays on modern thought.
“In several of the essays in this book I talk about John Calvin, a figure of the greatest historical consequence, especially for our culture, who is more or less entirely unread. Learned-looking books on subjects to which he is entirely germane typically do not include a single work of his immense corpus in their bibliographies, nor indicate in their allusions to him a better knowledge than folklore can provide of what he thought and said. I have encountered an odd sort of social pressure as often as I have mentioned him. One does not read Calvin. One does not think of reading him. The prohibition is more absolute than it ever was against Marx, who always had the glamour of the subversive or the forbidden about him. Calvin seems to be neglected on principle. This is interesting. It is such a good example of the oddness of our approach to history, and to knowledge more generally, that it bears looking into. Everything always bears looking into, astonishing as that fact is.”
There is so much talk about Calvin, but so little study of his work. Make reading the Institutes one of your priorities in 2012. Let’s fix the problem
A good example of Robinson’s erudite criticism:
Dr. Bob Gonzales, the Dean of Reformed Baptist Seminary, has a nice series of blog posts addressing the need for a modern day revision of the 1689. Links to all 17 parts can be found at the bottom of this post.
In my opinion, rather than revise the 1689, we should write a new Confession that includes the best material from it (in updated English). It should also include chapters addressing the issues the church faces today (e.g. marriage). When we hold our confessional documents in too high a regard, the detrimental effect is that we abandon the modern battlefields at the very points of engagement.
John Frame rightly states:
“There is a need for new creeds today, for Christians to confess their faith anew against modern heresies. There are new heresies in theology (which, of course, are only old ones in new terminology, with new slants)…
Clearly, an extrascriptural creed is not infallible, except insofar as it accurately applies the Scriptures. But we have no way to infallibly determine that. Nevertheless, a creed must have some authority, for otherwise it cannot do its job of representing the convictions of a body of believers. Thus our attitude toward our creeds should not be one of indifference. Neither, however, should it be an attitude of subscribing to a creed’s every jot and tittle, an attitude that binds us to endorse every proposition taught in a confession. Why? Because if we are required to have that attitude towards creeds and confessions, they could never be amended….To keep them from usurping the role and authority of Scripture as the church’s ultimate standard, creeds and confessions must be amendable”
Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, pp. 306, 308
“2011 Confession of Faith” has a nice ring to it.
Excellent piece by Wayne Grudem here.
HT: Jim Hamilton
It’s that time of year again (my favorite):
Charles Thomas Studd was an English missionary to China, India, and Africa. He spent the last 20 years of his life in one of the least evangelized parts of the world (the Belgian Congo) in the early 20th century. The advice he gave to the native converts who were going to travel throughout the villages sharing the gospel is as follows:
1. If you don’t desire to meet the Devil during the day, meet Jesus before dawn.
2. If you don’t want the Devil to hit you, hit him first, and hit him with all your might, so that he may be too crippled to hit back. ‘Preach the Word’ is the rod the Devil fears and hates.
3. If you don’t want to fall–walk, and walk straight and walk fast!”
4. Three of the Devil’s dogs with which he hunts us are: Swelled head, Laziness, and Cupidity [i.e. strong desire, especially for money and possessions]
Not just great advice for evangelists!
“The sense of the believer doing all things not only to the glory of God but in God’s presence (coram deo) has been a precious truth to Reformed people. God not only controls and commands, but in all of our experience He is, ultimately, the ‘one with whom we have to do’. Nothing can be farther from the deterministic, impersonalistic, intellectualistic, unemotional brand of religion represented in the popular caricature of Calvinism“.
Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, pg.48
Now that I’m rested and ready from my long vacation, having recovered from all the blogger stress…be on the lookout for some new posts.
David Platt’s not dodgy on the gospel.