Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Have a Bit of a Problem With That

In a Christian Post article on Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention, Audrey Barrick points out that a LifeWay Research study indicates Baptists are becoming increasingly TULIP oriented. Being a Southern Baptist and one who affirms the five points of the Doctrines of Grace, I'm happy to have the company.

I'm also happy to see the Convention's amicable view toward those of us who agree with the soteriology of one of the greatest Baptist preachers and evangelists of history, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

But I must respectfully disagree with a comment from Convention President Frank Page quoted in a paragraph of the article:

Promoting former SBC president Paige Patterson's practical suggestion, Page said, "When pastor search committees approach pastors and seminary graduates about possible positions, they need to be very honest with these individuals about what they will allow regarding teaching in this area."

Pastor Page said as much here. It is certainly important for a pastor search committee to determine the doctrinal position of prospective occupants of the pulpit. And questions on the Calvinism/Arminianism issue are appropriate, whichever view the particular church hiring the pastor takes (my guess is that most Southern Baptist churches don't take a particular view one way or the other. Unfortunately, most Southern Baptist pastor search committees probably also don't ask many questions about a potential pastor's doctrine, in this area or others).

It's that part about "what they will allow regarding teaching in this area" that I have a problem with. It's not the job of the search committee to "allow" teaching that is part of a family debate within the bounds of orthodox Christian belief. If they hire (or recommend) a pastor who has answered their interview questions honestly and forthrightly, then they must accept what he chooses to preach and teach concerning Calvinism/Arminianism, and in other areas (such as eschatology), as long as he is not teaching heresy or error and as long as he has not, since being hired, changed his position on a view particularly important to the church. You don't get to say, "We're going to hire you even though you're a Calvinist, but you can't preach Calvinism." What, does he take a month off when you get to John chapter 6 or Romans 9, etc, etc?

But I'm glad Pastor Page is open for dialogue on the issue.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Born. Of a virgin.

It is no accident that imbedded in many, if not most, heresies concerning the Person and Nature of Jesus Christ is a denial of the doctrine of the virgin birth. Isaiah the prophet foretold "...a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son..."(7: 14). Matthew reminds us of the prophet's words (1:23) and and devotes considerable space in his gospel narrative to describing their literal fulfillment. Luke also carefully relates that Christ was born of a virgin, a miraculous fact also affirmed in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. It is upheld by the church fathers, among them Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Athanasius. It is the proclamation of the Church. It is Christian doctrine. It is the truth.

The fact that Jesus, after approximately nine months' gestation, was born the way all babies are born indicates His Humanity. The fact His mother was still a virgin at His birth indicates He is the Eternal God, the I Am of Exodus 3: 14 and John 8: 24 and 8: 58, the Creator of the universe. Unlike other babies, the Son of God did not begin to exist at conception, but has existed for all eternity with the Father (John 1:1, 18; Philippians 2:6).

He went to considerable effort just to come and talk to us. And that was only the beginning.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How About Absolute Certainty?

Now, I figure that one of the last things any visitor--as if this blog had any visitors-- wants to read at a blog on which the author hasn't posted in a good while is a post about the fact that the author hasn't posted in a while; and since I have already conceded an entire sentence to that topic (which I insist on limiting to one sentence, regardless of how many clauses and commas it takes), I'm going to leave it at that.

I have some comments about this post by Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs fame. Mr. Johnson notes the postmodern tendency to make equivocating statements even about those propositional truths being affirmed by the source. Specifically, Mr. Johnson takes issue with the fact that many who identify with the Emerging Church, or Emerging Conversation, etc. decry absolute certainty (or "Excessive Confidence") about any doctrine.

Phil is correct in his assertion that adherents to the Emerging "dialogue" (which is in reality a mere monologue being restated from various sources) are predisposed to extol doctrinal uncertainty as a virtue. Ambiguity means magnanimity in the Land of Emergents, where one is free to join the "conversation" as long as one doesn't claim to know anything.

Even the adjective "excessive" as applied to to being firmly rooted ("excessive confidence", "excessive certainty") indicates the postmodern failure to grasp the kinetic relationship of truth, faith and practice. "Excessive certainty" seems a non sequitur; one is either certain or uncertain. Can certainty be quantified? What does adding the inflammatory adjective do to enhance the "Conversation?" And what is "missional" about cutting into the base of the sapling with the serrated edge of doubt?

If Christians don't have the truth, then we might as well sleep in on Sunday morning. See 1 Corinthians 15: 12-19. Thankfully, we do have the truth. See verses 20-26. Let's proclaim it with certainty.