Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Good news...

...appears on my alma mater's (Westminster Seminary; not the other one) website. My friend, Carl Trueman, has been confirmed (canonized? condemned? We report; you decide) as Vice President for Academic Affairs. As you can tell from his summary statement, we expect his future memoirs will be titled, "Carl Trueman: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pride and Prejudice

They say confession is good for the soul. Okay, here it goes--this weekend, feeling exhausted by the end of the semester and somewhat blue because of the nasty gray whether, I spent most of Saturday reading (and finishing at 2:30 in the morning) Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I had an excellent annontated version that really helped to explain what was going on (and spoil most of the ending before I got there, so that I didn't feel much agnst--which, as my wife, would say is a good thing). I must say, though, that I was just about ready to strangle Mrs. Bennett (Elizabeth's mother), who had to be the most annoying character on the face of the planet.

Jeffersonians All

As always, Darryl Hart gives a provocative take on Romney's speech--and what it says about religion in a (secular) democracy.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Even with all the freezing rain... is still a good day. Yesterday, for only the fourth time in the last thirteen tries, the Cream and Crimson defeated the Blue forces of darkness and evil.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dashboard confessional

For those who care to read this interview that I did with Martin Downes on "the Fight of Faith," you can read part one and part two. There should be a couple of more parts coming.

A final justification by works?

From John Owen, Communion with the Triune God, ed. Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor (Crossway, 2007), 263:

"But the works we do after we received Christ are of another consideration. Indeed, they are acceptable to God; it pleases him that we should walk in them. But as to that end for which we receive Christ, they are of no other account than the former. Even the works we do after believing--those which we are created unto in Christ Jesus, those that God has ordained that believers 'should walk in them'--as to justification and acceptance with God (here called salvation) are excluded. It will one day appear that Christ abhors the janglings of men about the place of their own works and obedience, in the business of their acceptation with God; nor will the saints find any peace in adulterous thoughts of that kind."

The Primary Emphasis of Scripture

One claim being made today is that the primary emphasis in Scripture is not on the individual, but on the corporate nature of the people of God. In that regard, it is interesting to hear James Bannerman, the 19th century professor of divinity at New College, Edinburgh:

"In its primary and most important aspect, indeed, the revelation of God contained in the Bible is a revelation to me individually. its discoveries of sin and announcements of judgment, its intimations of grace and its proclamations of a Savior, its offer of an atoning blood to expiate, and a regenerating Spirit to purge, transgression,--these are addressed to me individually; and if I deal with them at all, I must deal with them as if there was no other in the world except myself and God. Alone with God, I must realize the Bible as if it were a message from Him to my solitary self, singled out and separated from other men, and feeling my own individual responsibility in receiving or rejecting it.

"But the Bible does not stop there: it deals with man, not only as a solitary unit in his relation to God, but also as a member of a spiritual society, gathered together in the name of Jesus. It is not a mere system of doctrines to be believed and precepts to be observed by each individual Christian independently of others and apart from others: it is a system of doctrines and precepts, designed and adapted for a society of Christians...

"There are precepts in the Bible addressed, not to believers separately, but to believers associated together into a corporate society; there are duties that are enjoined upon the body, and not upon the members of which it is composed; there are powers assigned to the community, to which the individuals of the community are strangers; there is a government, an order, a code of laws, a system of ordinances and officers described in Scripture, which can apply to none other than a collective association of Christians. Without the existence of a Church, or of a body of believers, as contradistinguished from believers individually, very much of what is contained in the Bible would be unintelligible, and without practical application" (James Bannerman, The Church of Christ, vol. 1, p. 2).

Biblical Presbyterianism--biblical Christianity generically for that matter--recognizes and holds together the great need for individuals to "close with Christ" and to enjoy "communion with him" while also affirming that the religion of the Bible puts us together with other believers who are united to Jesus in a common body called Church. And yet, the priority, the emphasis, is on individuals' response of faith to the glorious God who has shone in their hearts with the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus.