f The Wittenberg Door: September 2012

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Notable Quote: James Montgomery Boice

James Montgomery Boice commenting on the origin of saving faith . . .

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.

Romans 1:8

. . . this is a faith that God himself brought into being and not something that welled up unaided in the heart of mere human beings. This is why Paul begins by thanking God for these Christians and not by praising them for their commitment. If faith were a human achievement, then Paul should have praised the Roman Christians. He should have said, “First, I thank you for believing in Jesus Christ” or “I praise you for your faith.” But Paul does not do this. Faith is worked in us by God as a result of the new birth. Therefore, Paul praises God, not man, for the Roman Christians.

Romans, Volume 1

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Notable Quote: Edmund Clowney

Edmund Clowney on maturing in holiness:

The Puritan John Owen wrote: “Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing and realizing of the gospel in our souls.” What Christ seeks in his church is what the gospel promises and provides. The quest for gospel holiness cannot mean acquiring confident expertise in the practice of the virtues. When Benjamin Franklin proposed to reform his life by shedding one vice at a time, he prepared an unintentional caricature of a Puritan spiritual journal.

The life of holiness is the life of faith in which the believer, with a deepening knowledge of his own sin and helplessness apart from Christ, increasingly casts himself upon the Lord, and seeks the power of the Spirit and the wisdom and comfort of the Bible to battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is not a lonely or cheerless struggle, for Christ gives the Spirit to the members of his body to help one another . . . Maturing in holiness means maturing in love, love that knows God’s love poured out in our hearts, and answers with love that tastes the goodness of the Lord.

The Church

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Notable Quote: John Calvin

John Calvin (1509 – 1564) on election:

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him . . .

Ephesians 1:4

We learn also from these words, that election gives no occasion to licentiousness, or to the blasphemy of wicked men who say, "Let us live in any manner we please; for, if we have been elected, we cannotvperish." Paul tells them plainly, that they have no right to separatevholiness of life from the grace of election; for

"whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified." (Romans 8:30.)

The inference, too, which the Catharists, Celestines, and Donatistsvdrew from these words, that we may attain perfection in this life, is without foundation. This is the goal to which the whole course of ourvlife must be directed, and we shall not reach it till we have finished our course.

Where are the men who dread and avoid the doctrine of predestination as an inextricable labyrinth, who believe it to be useless and almost dangerous? No doctrine is more useful, provided it be handled in the proper and cautious manner, of which Paul gives us an example, when he presents it as an illustration of the infinite goodness of God, and employs it as an excitement to gratitude. This is the true fountain from which we must draw our knowledge of the divine mercy. If men should evade every other argument, election shuts their mouth, so that they dare not and cannot claim anything for themselves. But let us remember the purpose for which Paul reasons about predestination, lest, by reasoning with any other view, we fall into dangerous errors.

Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, Volume 11: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians


Sunday, September 09, 2012

Notable Quote: John Calvin

On justification . . .

We explain justification simply as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favour as righteous men. And we say that it consists in the remission of sins and the imputation of Christ's righteousness. (Institutes 3:11:2)


Sunday, September 02, 2012

Notable Quote: James Sire

James Sire on the first task of a Christian thinker:

In an age in which postmodernism’s reduction of the real to a linguistic (whose disciplines are hermeneutics and semiology) and modernism’s emphasis on knowing rather than being (whose disciplines are epistemology and natural science), it is time to reassert the biblical priority of being (whose disciplines are theology and ontology or metaphysics). It may have a misplaced signified, a perverted meaning, but the slogan used to enlist people in the military has the words right: “Be all that you can be.” With the military, cannon fodder may be all one becomes, but with God, ah, that’s another matter. God simply is: “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14). This He Who Is is the Word, the One Who Speaks, and when he speaks, he says, “Jesus Christ!” To pay attention first to God in Christ: this is the first task of the Christian Thinker.


Saturday, September 01, 2012

Reformed Theology: The New Fad?

Ever since Time Magazine listed Calvinism as one of the “10 ideas changing the world right now,” I wondered if we Reformed folk were headed to Hipsterville—not really. (Although I do have this dream of, say, Justin Bieber intoning, “Transubstantiation? That’s sooooo 1400s.”) That being said, there does seem to be a trend towards the Reformation.

One of the complaints against Reformed churches is that we evangelize Evangelicals. There’s some truth to that: we provide sustenance for those wanting to move from milk to meat (1 Cor. 3:2). But is there more to this? Is there something “faddish” about this move towards the Reformation? Carl Trueman of Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) tells us how we can identify a genuine revival of Reformed theology . . .

Long term, it will be the existence of organized churches (i.e. with elders and members) where this material is faithfully preached and the gospel is lived out daily. And it will build on more immediate developments: a piety that does not feel the need to shock or be self-conscious in its hipness.

This piety will place a primacy on the qualities of character and practice that Paul outlines in his letters, rather than on the celebrity aesthetics he decries in his words to the Corinthian church. It will manifest itself in humble commitment to the gathering of the church, humble attention to the preaching of the Word, and humble service for the church. It will be shown in the careful guarding of our minds and our hearts (that’s the hard part) from erroneous doctrine and behavior—not to earn God’s favour, but rather because God has already blessed us with every good thing in Christ. It will not be brash or loud. It will not even be cool or relevant, except by accident.

You can read the entire post here, and part 2 here.