R C Sproul’s most popular teachings now on Youtube

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The Holiness of God

The Holiness of God examines the meaning of holiness and why people are both fascinated and terrified by a holy God. This series closely explores God’s character, leading to new insights on sin, justice, and grace. The result is a new awareness of…
The Importance of Holiness

32:23
The Trauma of Holiness

31:20
Holiness and Justice

32:56
The Insanity of Luther

33:40
The Meaning of Holiness

30:51
The Holiness of Christ

33:31

Chosen By God

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Many people reject Reformed theology or Calvinism because they believe it teaches that God drags people kicking and screaming into the church against their will. This, however, is a gross distortion of the biblical doctrine of election, which is g…
Everyone Believes this Doctrine

30:54
God’s Sovereignty

28:00
What Is Free Will?

30:15
Man’s Radical Fallenness

31:12
Does God Create Unbelief?

31:11
The Divine Initiative

29:17

What Is Reformed Theology?

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There is something healthy about returning to one’s roots. When it comes to evangelical Christianity, its roots are found in the soil of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. Just as the Reformers protested the corrupt teaching of the Roma…
Introduction

21:47
Catholic, Evangelical, and Reformed

22:48
Scripture Alone

22:57
Faith Alone (Part 1)

22:47
Faith Alone (Part 2)

23:24
Covenant

22:33
Total Depravity (Part 1)

22:34
Total Depravity (Part 2)

22:44
Unconditional Election

21:46
Limited Atonement

22:25
Irresistible Grace

22:13
Perseverance of the Saints

22:50

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Reclame

You Cannot Serve Both God and Theology

It’s possible to love what we’re learning about God more than we love God himself.

God,theology,Bible

Photo Churchleaders.com

Jesus himself says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24; see also Hebrews 13:5). The God of Christianity and the god of money are irreconcilably opposed. They cannot room together in the human heart. If you find yourself serving money—consuming yourself with earning, gathering and spending—by definition you are not serving God.

But is money more spiritually dangerous than theology? The answer may be trickier than we think, especially within the numbing comfort of a proudly affluent and educated American Church. Money is a tangible, countable, often visible god. Theology, on the other hand—if it is cut off from truly knowing and enjoying God himself—can be a soothing, subtle, superficially spiritual god. Both are deadly, but one lulls us into a proud, intellectual, and purely cosmetic confidence and rest before God. Theology will kill you if it does not kindle a deep and abiding love for the God of the Bible and if it does not inspire a desire for his glory, and not ultimately our own.

Good Theology Is the Only Path to God

Now, I love theology, and you should, too. Paul’s one aim in life and ministry was to know Christ and him crucified (i.e., to know Christian theology), and he wanted to know God in Christ as truly and thoroughly as possible, with all of its implications for everything he thinks and says and does (1 Corinthians 2:2). You cannot read this man’s letters and not come to the conclusion that theology was his heartbeat. He lived to know as much about this unsearchable God as possible, and he was ready to die for those truths.

Psalm 119 is a passionate love letter written to the revelation of God in his word. What we know about God from the Bible is unbelievably, inexhaustibly profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness and life (2 Timothy 3:16; John 6:68).

Without theology, you will not know God—literally and spiritually. So, this article is not meant to be a prohibition against theology—God forbid—but a caution and a warning about theology. Knowledge about God can replace an authentic knowing of him to our destruction, especially for the theologically refined and convinced. We all should want our theology to be not only true, but Spirit-filled and fruitful.

The Best Readers Can Be the Worst Listeners

The Pharisees fought Jesus at every turn. They doubted and even hated much of what he said and did, and tried again and again to trap him in a lie or inconsistency. They had read God’s word over and over again. They knew this book really well—or so it seemed—and yet they did not know the Word living, breathing and speaking in front of them—the Word through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made that was made (John 1:3), the Word who became flesh and walked the earth (John 1:14), the Word who is the perfect picture of God and who upholds the universe with the words of his mouth (Hebrews 1:3).

Mark recounts one of these confrontations between Jesus and the so-called spiritual experts of his day. “The Pharisees and the scribes asked [Jesus], ‘Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’” (Mark 7:5). We know this was not Pharisaical humility and genuine curiosity (Matthew 12:14; 22:15). This was defiance—an attempt to undermine and shame the Son of God.

They were so confident in their theology that they confronted the Christ himself. They tried to pin him down under the feather-weight and wading-pool-depth of their theology—the One who was the fulfillment and pinnacle of all the pages they had read. They challenged God’s own understanding of God. Their education and pride—their knowledge and confidence in their own system—had blinded them to the very image and voice of God. They knew so much about God, and yet knew him so little.

By Marshall Segal – Read the entire post here – http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/247944-cannot-serve-god-theology.html/2

Skye Jethani – Image Bearing and Good Works at Trinity International University

Great message for young college, seminary, university students and youth, struggling with how radical they should be living their lives for Jesus and how we come to God and what we do afterwards, using the prodigal son as the backdrop. Do we get our identity in our desires, like the prodigal son, using God to achieve them (whether wrong or right desires)? Or, as the older brother, to we get our identity in obedience?

The older son is really no different than the younger son. He’s not interested in a relationship with his father. He’s only interested what he can get from his father, but he’s going about getting it in a different way. The younger son was going about it getting it in a socially unacceptable , arrogant, abusive way, by saying, „Drp dead. Just give me the wealth now.” The older son goes about getting it in a more socially acceptable obedient pleasant way: through service. „I’m gonna serve and obey.” But, in the end, his focus is on: What can I get from him? „Where’s my party? Where’s my goat? Where’s my part of the inheritance? Where’s my affirmation? He’s no different than the younger son. He isn’t interested in his father, he is interested in what he can get from him. He’s just going about getting it in a more socially acceptable way.

So, here’s the problem we face. So much of our cultures caught in a consumer Gospel, a consumer Christianity that wants to use God and the solution prescribed by a great amount of the American church, in many evangelical communities, the solution to the consumer Gospel is an activist Gospel. Get off your butt and start serving. Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking for others.Go out and change the world. Go dig those wells, go give more money. Go serve more. Go do everything that God asks you to do. But when we present that message by itself, all we’ve done is take younger sons and made them into older sons. What we’ve done is effectively inoculate people to the Gospel…

-Skye Jethani begins Trinity’s Fall Series, Imago Dei, with “Image Bearing and Good Works.”

-Skye, a Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Alumni, works with Christianity Today and Leadership Journal.

VIDEO by Trinity International University

Christian scholar and philosopher Arthur Holmes (Wheaton College) speaks on the history of philosophy

God and Plato on the Human Soul
Arthur Holmes

Carl Trueman at SBTS (2) The Word in Action – Luther’s theology of the preached word

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Dr. Carl Trueman:

In lecture 2 I want to talk about the power in the Word. In the first lecture (click on link above for first lecture)  I sketched out the basics of Luther’s theology, with particular reference to his understanding of God’s revelation of Himself in the incarnate and crucified flesh of Jesus Christ. There, and only there did Luther believe one can find God revealed as being gracious towards sinners. To approach God in any way, outside the flesh of Christ was to approach the God of righteous judgment. A consuming fire, the terrifying God who rides on the wing of  a storm and who is accountable to no one. And before whom no sinful creature can stand and expect to live.

In the second lecture I want to move from the theological foundations we’ve established to Luther’s theology of the preached word. And by the third lecture we’ll finally get to Luther’s practice of pastoral ministry. But, it’s in the preached word that the church encounters the crucified Christ and thus the preached word which must be central to the church’s life and actions. In addition, we must also remember the basic arguments of these lectures as a whole, that Luther’s theology is determinative of his understanding of the nature and the toils of the pastoral ministry.

That he would have found modern evangelical claims to ‘agree on the Gospel’, but, ‘to allow freedom in method and practice’ to be strange. Not that the Lutheran reformation looked exactly the same, everywhere in Germany. Liturgy varied in detail between places, but the basic shape of pastoral ministry and of church life enjoyed a high degree of consensus. As is the historian’s way, however, I cannot begin the story of Luther’s understanding of the word of god with Luther himself.

The late medieval background

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...…..  In many ways Luther remained a man of medieval ages. His politically conservative futurism and his acute sense of the physical presence of the devil, and also of demons and imps are just two examples of what separates him from the other reformers. who were trained as renaissance humanists and were men of the modern age. On the theological front, it was the late medieval critical philosophy of the language, connected to the radical application of what was called the dialectic of God’s two powers which gripped Luther’s theological imagination and remained with him from the monastic cloister to the day of his death.

…..Competency in human reason had been declining from the 12th century onwards in Europe. And this dialectic between the 2 powers of God was used in a dialectic and critical way to articulate the increasing epistemological modesty that people had with regard to God. Human reason came to be regarded less and less competent to predict what God would be like. And first, theologians focused increasingly on revelation as the source of the knowledge of God. We shouldn’t get too excited, as that revelation was not identified with Scripture, by these late medieval theologians so much as the teaching of the church’s magisterium. The distinction also fed and strengthened a perennial linguistic debate about the nature and function of words. And this will become significant for Luther’s understanding of preaching. Taken to its extreme this became an anti-essentialist view of being which effectively made words themselves the determiners of reality. This is what is known as late medieval nominalism and it was the linguistic school in which Luther was trained and whose basic assumptions remained with him throughout his entire career, to the day of his death.

Those critics of post modernism, such as Terry Eagleton have pointed out there are pointed similarities between medieval nominalism and certain schools of post modern linguistic theory. We might summarize these similarities by saying that both envisage the world as a linguistic construct. Words, not essences become determinative and constitutive of reality. I suspect that Luther would have little time for the excesses of postmodern anti-essentialism with the kind of kaleidoscopic anarchy it has created with the regard to gender, sexuality and even the notion of human nature. Nevertheless, we should note that Luther would not object to postmodernism by reasserting a kind of essentialism. Rather, I suspect, Luther’s rejection of postmodern anarchy would be based on his belief that God is the supreme reality, that He is ultimately the one who speaks, and whose speech is therefore the ground of existence and of difference. Reality is not determined by the linguistic proclivities of any human individual, or any human community, but by the word of God.

The theological implications of this should become obvious. For example, to refer back to the theology of the cross- the empiricist, the essentialist looks at the cross and sees weakness, agony, suffering and defeat, and no more. That is the outward aesthetics of the cross would seem to indicate. And it is what the social and philosophical conventions of Jews and Greeks of 1st Corinthians would also lead them to believe. But, neither the empirical aesthetics, nor their interpretation through the grid of their constructed social conventions are actually any guide to the reality  of what is taking place. God has extrinsically declared the cross to be powerful, a victory, a moment of triumph. And God’s word trumps everything in determining the reality that is there. Thus, only those christians who reject the evidence of their senses, and reject the established logic and expectations of their culture and trust instead in their counter intuitive truth of God’s words can truly understand the reality.

The same, of course applies to justification. Older medieval approaches to justification required the individual actually to be somewhat righteous before God could declare the person to be justified. Late medieval theologian Gabriel Biel had broken with this tradition, arguing instead that God could set His own criteria for the declaration of justification. For Biel, God had entered into a pact with human beings and had agreed that according to His ordained power He was going to accept an individual’s best efforts as righteousness, as meeting the condition for God to declare that person to be in a state of grace. Once in such a state of grace, the individual could then benefit form sacramental grace  and do works of real righteousness and intrinsic merit.

Luther came to reject the theology of Biel as a form of semi pelagianism. The very idea that one could do one’s best and meet any condition became anathema to him. If human beings are morally dead, then the only things they can do is acknowledge that in all humility despair in themselves and look to God for unmerited mercy. Yet in breaking with Biel, Luther remained indebted to one of Biel’s most important conceptual moves. For Biel, as later for Luther, the justified person was not necessarily, actually, intrinsically righteous. They were simply declared extrinsically to be righteous by God.

By making entry into a state of grace, something that was not based on intrinsic merit, but rather on merit determined on extrinsic pactum. Biel first shattered the link between essential reality and divinely determined reality. For those of you interested in the history of the ‘History of Dogma’ will know that this is something for which conservative catholic historians of dogma have never forgiven him and which indeed shapes how our contemporary historians like Brad S. Gregory of Notre Dame views the reformation. The reformation is seen as the ultimate evil fruit of late medieval anti-essentialism.

The practical significance of this linguistic philosophy for Luther as pastor is that words become absolutely foundational to everything the pastor does. If words determine reality, then of all things the pastor does, the words he speaks are the most important: Reading the bible in public, preaching the word form the pulpit, applying the word individually in the confessional. Each of these things determine the reality of the church. This linguistic emphasis also helps explain to those of us with less sacramental proclivities than Luther why he holds such high views of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. That on the latter point at least, he’s willing to divide protestantism over the issue.  Incidentally, Luther’s objection to transubstantiation is not in 1520 that the body and blood of Christ are there, it’s that the bread and the wine have disappeared.

It would be remiss of me simply to reduce Luther’s reformation theology to a particularly radical application of late medieval linguistic theory as a means of solving his own personal issues

The Word in Action from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Read the Journal for Baptist Theology and Mission online + link to articles and books


The Journal for Baptist Theology and Mission (published at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) is now available on this wonderful website – biblicalstudies.org.uk

You can now access a table of contents and all the articles from 2003-2011 here. The material is already available on the Baptist Center for Theology and Mission website, The pdfs of all issues have been split into individual articles to enable them to be downloaded more quickly by those accessing the Internet on slow connections.

On this same website you can also find a great number of hosted articles, Monographs and Books at this page – http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/articles.php

Alister McGrath on C.S. Lewis & the Postmodern Generation 50 years later (Christian Biography)

lewis

Biography snippets of Clive Staples Lewis, born in Belfast, Ireland 29th of November 1898 and died 22 November 1963.

A very interesting lecture, in which Dr. Alister McGrath gives some previously unknown details from C S Lewis’s life. Dr. McGrath (a former atheist, similar to C S Lewis himself) has written a biography for C. S. Lewis, for which he has done extensive research. I have met a few people who have been greatly assisted by Lewis in their search for God, while they were atheist. I have also seen college students greatly assisted by Lewis’s apologetics, especially Lewis’s book ‘Mere Christianity’,  so it a worthwhile biography to read up on and Dr. McGrath gives some detailed and personal insights into the man we now know as C S Lewis in the first video, following with a question and answer session in the second video.

Dr. McGrath explores some of the issues that Lewis engages, which remain important to us today. The theme of Dr. McGrath’s lecture is:

What does Lewis say to us today?

Dr. McGrath addresses 3 questions:

  1. So why does Lewis matter so much?
  2. What does he have to say to us today?
  3. Why does Dr. McGrath refer to Lewis as reluctant prophet?

The 4 themes of C S Lewis

(1) Christianity gives us a big picture

C S Lewis writes: „I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not only do I see it but by it I see everything else.” His point is that Christianity gives us this way of looking at things which helps them to come into focus. It gives us a panorama of reality  and it enables us to see what things are really like, and where we fit into things as well. And for Lewis, the ability of the Christian faith to make sense of things is a very important reason for thinking that it is true.

(2) The argument from desire

This is a quote from Lewis’s book ‘Mere Christianity’: „If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Well, what does he mean by that? Let me try and explain. He’s saying that most of us have this experience of longing for something that really satisfies, or the sense that there has to be more than what we know, there’s something beyond us. And Lewis starts to argue like this. He argues that there’s:

  • Spiritual longing
  • A sense of emptiness
  • Something that nothing created or finite can satisfy
  • A longing for God

So we begin to ask questions like: If there’s something, and we found it and we began to make sense of things, it will bring satisfaction and fulfillment to our lives. And then Lewis argues that, really, nothing in this world, nothing that is created or finite seems able to satisfy the deepest longings of humanity, because in reality, these are longings for God. And Lewis’s argument is that this experience of longing, which is so difficult to satisfy, is really a longing for God, which we get muddled about and attach to something else.

This a quote from Pilgrim’s Regress: „The human soul was made to enjoy some object that is never fully given- nay, cannot even be imagined as given- in our present mode of subjective and spatio-temporal experience.” There is something we are meant to possess, to enjoy, and it’s not something in this world. But, our desires and longings help us realize that we are looking for something and that it is not to be found in this world. It lies beyond it.

This is brought up clearly, in what I think is some of Lewis’s best writing, preached in the University Church, Oxford, on 8 June 1941. Sermon: Weight of glory- Title comes from John Donne, who spoke of the ‘exceeding weight of divine glory’. In this sermon Lewis explores this idea of desire. What he is saying is this: We think that this- for example, the quest for beauty- or a really important relationship, that this is going to satisfy us, that somehow this is our destination of our quest for meaning and truth. But in reality it’s a signpost, pointing beyond itself. It’s not the signpost we’re looking for, it’s what it points to. And he argues like this:

„The books or the music which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.”

And so Lewis suggests that the things that create desire and longing- „like beauty, or the memory of past, these are good images of what we desire. In other words, not what we desire, but echoes of it or hints of it. But if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn them into dumb idols and they break the hearts of their worshippers.” So Lewis suggests that „they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have not visited.” Lewis is saying that one of the things you and I can help people to do is to realize that Christianity makes sense of this longing and points towards the One who is able to satisfy, to fulfill these deepest yearnings and transform us. So, Lewis ends this sermon by talking about his hope for transformation:

At present, we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door… We cannot mingle with the splendors that we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”

(3) Lewis on Imagination and Stories

I think Lewis’s greatest contribution lies in his imagination, in his importance of stories. Even as a teenager Lewis realized the powerful appeal that stories made to the imagination. His conversion to Christianity was partly about discovering that Christianity told a „grand story’ that both made sense of things, and appealed deeply to his imagination.

(4) Translation

We need to translate the Gospel message into terms an audience can understand. Lewis is good on this. We’re coming up on Easter Day and we’re going to be using words like Atonement, Redemption, Salvation, and we all know that these are very rich and important words, but they’re words our culture does not necessarily understand. And so, we have to explain, unpack, translate these ideas for the benefit of our audience. For example, Paul talks with great excitement in Romans 5 about being justified by faith, but if you talk to your friends about justification, they will mean something like this: Justification is giving an excuse for being late at work, or it’s about things you do to the right hand margin on your word processor. So the important thing is how do we translate?

During World War II, Lewis began to speak to ground crews at Royal AIr Force bases. He had to learn how to express himself in terms that this audience could understand and appreciate. And he did it. That’s one of the reason his broadcast talks over the BBC in the 1940’s were so successful. They connected up with where people were.

C S Lewis's church Holy Trinity Headington

Photo from video – C S Lewis’s church Holy Trinity, Headington

This lecture was given at Lanier Theological Library. VIDEO by fleetwd1
This lecture by Dr Alister McGrath was sponsored by The Lanier Theological Library in Houston, TX and presented at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, TX, Saturday, March 23, 2012 titled: „C.S. Lewis and the Post Modern Generation: His Message 50 Years Later”.

Dr. Alister McGrath is a Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education at Kingʼs College London, and Head of its Centre for Theology, Religion, and Culture. He is also Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, and President of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Until 2008, he was Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University.

Dr. McGrath was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1953. He attended Methodist College, Belfast, in 1966 studying pure and applied mathematics, physics and chemistry. McGrath continued his education and eventually earned both a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and a Doctorate of Divinity from Oxford University. The interactions between these two areas of study—Christian theology and the natural sciences—have been a major theme of his research work.

Dr. Alister McGrath poses for a picture while ...

As a former atheist, McGrath is respectful, yet critical of scientific atheism. He has frequently engaged in debate and dialogue with leading atheists, including Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins. McGrath has explored Charles Darwinʼs role in atheist apologetics and other controversial concepts of atheism, such as the „meme” in recent atheist accounts of the origins of belief in God.

McGrath is working on many projects, including his research on the late C. S. Lewis and a major intellectual history of the Swiss Protestant theologian Emil Brunner. His new book to be published in March is entitled C. S. Lewis – A Life. Reluctant Prophet, Eccentric Genius. This biography will be supplemented by a collection of eight major academic essays on Lewis, to be published in May 2013. Other forthcoming books are the first in a five-volume series entitled „Christian Belief for Everyone” and a new textbook on Christian History.

For more infomation on the Lanier Theological Library:http://www.laniertheologicallibrary.org/ VIDEO by fleetwd1

Alister McGrath Q & A

  • Did C S Lewis doubt God when his wife died?
  • What would C S Lewis think about our current culture?
  • Do you have any idea why Lewis made the ruler of Narnia a woman?
  • Is there any author today that could carry on Lewis’s legacy of writing compelling fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature?
  • Has C S Lewis’s intellectual legacy done us any notable disservice?
  • How did Lewis’s Platonism influence his christianity?
  • Did Lewis continue his studies of Nordic Myth after his conversion?
  • Do any of his writings reveal any hesitations or change in his viewpoint?
  • What do you think of Lewis’s view of Scripture? (13:50)
  • Is it true that C S Lewis’s reputation is more admired in the US, while the British are more skeptical of him?
  • If someone has never read C S Lewis, where do you recommend they start?
  • Was Lewis willing to suspend some of his more orthodox views for the good of the story?
  • What story would you or Lewis use to explain justification in the 21st century?
  • C S Lewis operated from the margins of religious life. Why is he a central  figure now?
  • What would you say in regards to C S Lewis’ apologetics?
  • Could you speak to the correct order of Narnia books?

Related articles from this blog

From the C S Lewis Institute 6 videos- very, very interesting and from an extremely enjoyable lecturer:

More C. S. Lewis

  1. C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 1 – Men without chests
  2. C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 2 The Way
  3. C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man Chapter 3

IN ROMANIAN:

Luther’s theology of the cross

English: MARTIN LUTHER IN CHURCH OF MARTIN LUT...

An outstanding 30 min lecture on Luther By Harvard’s Ronald Thieman. Here’s one of his characterizations of Luther through a selection of Luther’s quotes:

Luther: „A person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him… adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty. Our utter inability to achieve righteousness before God, should not”, Luther stresses, „be cause for despair. But, rather should desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of God. But, even this self humbling and seeking is not a meritorious human act. The transformation of our wills is itself always and only a work of God, though, it is certain though that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.” 

Thus it becomes clear in these early thesis that  Luther is setting out a set of normative proposals for living a life shaped by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While there are a set of epistemological consequences of living such a life, the existential spiritual dimensions of the theology of the cross are front and center from the onset. Thus, it comes as no surprise in the next set of thesis that Luther turns not to the abstract question of the theology of the cross, but, to the concrete issue to the form of life exemplified by the theologian of the cross. 

That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of  God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things that have actually happened.  He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross. A theologian of glory calls evil good and  good evil. A theologian of the cross call the thing what it actually is. 

„Luther’s Theology of the Cross: Resource for a Theology of Religions?” presented by Ronald Thiemann (Harvard University) on the topic of „Continuity and Novelty” – „The Global Luther: Reconsidering the Contributions of Martin Luther, an International Conference” Department of Religion, Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University, February 23, 2008. Northwestern University, February 23, 2008.http://www.religion.northwestern.edu/conferences/globalluther/

Uploaded by  on Jul 7, 2008

Carl Trueman at SBTS (4) Panel discussion (from the Luther lectures)


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Southern Seminary SBTS Panel with Carl Trueman, Dan Dumas, and Michael Haykin. Unlike the three lectures which were all on the subject of Luther, this discussion turns to seminaries and their role in the spiritual formation of the students.

A few of the points discussed:

  • What about Spiritual formation as something within the curriculum (that pervades the curriculum) instead of as a separate discipline in the seminaries?

Michael Haykin: Biblical spirituality is the teaching and the communication of biblical truth about the way in which we draw near to God, then He is drawn near to us. It is therefore rooted deeply in the cross and the meritorious work and life of Jesus Christ and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. And so, it’s reflecting about theology, which has to be there as a foundation, that is why the recent interest in spirituality in evangelical circles ( a la Dallas Willard and Richard Foster) which doesn’t lay religious doctrinal foundations is problematic. So it’s definitely got biblical foundations, building on that, showing and teaching how we appropriate the riches that are in Christ via prayer, bible meditation,  and the other things we describe as spiritual disciplines that are a means of grace.

(16 min) There has been a significant collapse of patterns of piety established at the reformation, honed through the puritan period, still in place there, among evangelicals in the 18th and early 19th century, but then have collapsed completely in the 20th century.

Carl Trueman: The sheer size of seminaries today imposes limitations on how we can form individual students as christians. And that’s where I can see again, the church coming into play. Certainly, when I stand up in front of the class I can model a certain kind of christianity to my students. But, I think the primary place where spirituality is formed has to be the church. It also goes back yo my fear that the parachurch (seminaries included) supplants the church

  • Concerns about the overall trends in the evangelical circles, primarily about what the church should be doing being passed down to parachurch ministries (such as seminaries).
  • Sometimes spiritual formation gets very narrowly defined by seminaries in a way that can be somewhat self serving. We should not make the attendance of chapel compulsory. We have a different profile of student than we had even, say 30 years ago. Lots of our students are working their way through seminary and I’m not sure the person who had to go to chapel at 10:30 in the morning is doing something more meritorious and forming than coming off night shift, straight to my 8:30 class, then going home to see his wife.

Panel Discussion from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Carl Trueman Lecture at SBTS (3) Martin Luther – The Tools of the Trade

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Dr. Carl Trueman: In the first lecture I wanted to make the argument that theology and the practice of ministry are intimately connected. Luther is a great example of this. You see that Luther’s theology really drives his understanding of the shape of pastoral ministry. And I wanted to challenge you to move beyond the merely historical point I’m making there, to reflect longer on how you perceive ministry and how your perception actually reflects something about your theological convictions and to urge you to allow your theological convictions to drive how you think about ministry.

The second lecture I talked about Luther’s understanding of the word of God, how God is fundamentally to us, a God who speaks. And God’s speech essential constitutes reality. And I applied that to the nature of preaching. I think one of Luther’s great insights is the connection he makes between the speech of God and the speech of the preacher. And I hope that those of you who are preachers, or are going to be preachers will be excited by that idea that when the preacher speaks God’s word is powerful.

The final lecture- The Tools of the Trade- I wanna make the point that ordinary people mattered to the shape of Luther’s reformation. These are the people that are not typically featured in the textbooks other than as statistics, because, by and large they were too busy working to put bread on the table than to write books about how they’re feeling. But, yet, Luther’s connection with these people profoundly shaped how he executed his task as pastor.

So, in the third lecture I want to examine the practicality of Luther’s own pastoral ministry. As with all pastors, Luther is of course a flawed human being. And the details of his actual practice do not entirely square with his theology. One obvious example would be his increasingly bitter preoccupation with the Jews, which one finds from the 1530’s onwards. Frustrated by their failure to convert to Christianity, Luther adopted, and, indeed sharpened many of the standard –- of the anti Jewish polemic, which was so common in late medieval Europe. Indeed, his very last sermon, preached in 1546 ended with a bitter harangue against the jews. Thus, I accept at the outset that if you dig deep into Luther’s life, you will find inconsistencies and hypocrisies, here and there. My point here is not to argue for the total consistency of Luther, but rather a general conformity of his practice to his theological commitments.

The reform of worship

The first point to make as we now approach Luther’s pastoral practice, is that the way in which he reformed worship was intimately connected to his care and concern for ordinary people. Many of us are familiar with his treatise on prayer, which was originally a letter to his hairdresser Peter, who had told him while cutting his hair that he struggled with his prayer life. Reflect on that for awhile. Luther had time to write a handbook on prayer for the man who cut his hair.

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ lag in Todes Banden, and who, with Johann Walter, also wrote the melody (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even the briefest glance at Luther’s volume of letters reveal a man who was equally comfortable writing to powerful princes and to much lesser individuals with words of encouragement, counsel and occasional letters of rebuke. Yet, Luther’s care for people has significance, not simply for his personal relations, but also for the pace and shape of the Lutheran reformation. Basic to the reformation was the education of the people in the patterns of thought and behavior reformers required by their new theology. This issue raised all manner of pedagogical questions, which in turn raised questions about what we might call now broadly – aesthetics. What was church meant to look like? What was church meant to sound like? What was family piety and individual devotions meant to look like and sound like?

In the early years of the reformation, leadership at Wittenberg was shared by Martin Luther and his academic colleague, one time friend and later nemesis, a man called Andreas Bodenstein, (named Karlstadt after his birthplace). In the years after 1517, these 2 men came to represent 2 different visions of reform and Wittenberg would ultimately prove that it was only big enough to allow only one man to succeed.

Things came to a head in 1522. After the Diet of Worms, Luther was kidnapped by his prince, Frederick the Wise’s men and kept for his own safety in the Wartburg castle, high on the hills of Eisenach where he began his work of producing a German reformation Bible, by translating the New Testament.

As Luther is in the Wartburg castle, the leadership passes to Karlstadt. Luther’s young assistant Philip Melanchthon and  his colleague Conrad Zwilling pushed very hard for radical reformation, which has all of the hallmarks of social revolution. Iconoclasm, violent rhetoric at rapid pace. Luther, later in 1521 travels to Wittenberg incognito to see the chaos first hand. And then in 1522 he’s brought back by Frederick the Wise because the riots are getting out of hand and if the reformation descends into total chaos, Frederick will have to act to crush it because the emperor Charles V will move against Saxony. Luther comes back and I think this is the point in his career where he is actually in most danger because if he can’t quell the riots in Wittenberg, and all he can use to do that is his own force of personality, he will be replaced by Frederick the Wise.

Luther comes back, quells the social revolution in Wittenberg and introduces  a much more conservative vision of reformation. There will be no iconoclasm. If you go to a Lutheran church today, you will find crucifixes. The conservative however of Luther’s intervention in 1522 was not simply a piece of political pragmatism. I think it was also connected to his pastoral sensitivity. Luther knew that lasting change could only be brought about by gentle persuasion. Most people then, as ever since did not like change. And so, Luther demonstrated in 1522 and throughout his subsequent career an aesthetic conservatism, which was designed as much to prevent the disturbance of tender consciences as it was to appease the desire of his political masters.

We tend to romanticize the reformation and we think that everybody is desperate for the reformation to come to town. We see evidence of this in Luther’s liturgical innovations. From as early as 1520, it is clear that Lutheran theology demands vernacular liturgy. How could the mass, for example, be any use if the words of promise are not clearly articulated in a language which the people could understand? Yet, for a man who stands out in history as a volcanic revolutionary, Luther’s move towards liturgical reform are gradual and hesitant. This is how he describes his approach in a pamphlet in 1523(6 yrs. after the crisis of 1517): Until now, I have only used books and sermons to wean the charts of the people from their Godless regard for the ceremonial. For I believed it would be a christian and helpful thing, if I could prompt a peaceful removal of the abomination that Satan sets up in the holy place, through the man of sin. Therefore I’ve used neither authority or pressure, nor did I make any innovations for I have been hesitant and fearful, partly because of the weak in faith who cannot suddenly exchange an accustomed order of worship for a new and unusual one and also because of the fickle  and fastidious spirits who rush in like unclean swine without faith or reason and who delight only in novelty and tires of it as quickly when it is worn off. Such people are a nuisance, even in other affairs. But, in spiritual matters they are absolutely unbearable. Nonetheless, at the risk of bursting with anger, I must bear with them, unless I want to let the Gospel itself be denied to the people.

Here, Luther made it clear that he was concerned to handle the delicate consciences with care and also to give no ground to those who seek novelty or innovation for its own sake. The liturgy he then described in 1523 was itself very conservative. Essentially, a cleaned up version of the traditional mass. Still in Latin, except for the sermon and a few hymns. And later, Luther can hardly be described as being in the vanguard of the application of his own theological principles to liturgical reform.

Indeed, even in 1524, as he wrote against the radicals, Luther rejoiced that the mass was now said in German, but also argued that such a practice should not be made compulsory lest it become a new legalism. And also because he was not yet satisfied that the German liturgy captured the full beauty of what was going on. It was not until October 1525 that a full German mass was celebrated in Wittenberg.  That’s as early as Luther feels able to push forward with the full application of theology that he’s fully articulating in 1517-1518. It’s remarkable sensitivity. (17 min mark)

The Tools of the Trade from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Carl Trueman at SBTS (2) The Word in Action – Luther’s theology of the preached word

See

Dr. Carl Trueman:

In lecture 2 I want to talk about the power in the Word. In the first lecture (click on link above for first lecture)  I sketched out the basics of Luther’s theology, with particular reference to his understanding of God’s revelation of Himself in the incarnate and crucified flesh of Jesus Christ. There, and only there did Luther believe one can find God revealed as being gracious towards sinners. To approach God in any way, outside the flesh of Christ was to approach the God of righteous judgment. A consuming fire, the terrifying God who rides on the wing of  a storm and who is accountable to no one. And before whom no sinful creature can stand and expect to live.

In the second lecture I want to move from the theological foundations we’ve established to Luther’s theology of the preached word. And by the third lecture we’ll finally get to Luther’s practice of pastoral ministry. But, it’s in the preached word that the church encounters the crucified Christ and thus the preached word which must be central to the church’s life and actions. In addition, we must also remember the basic arguments of these lectures as a whole, that Luther’s theology is determinative of his understanding of the nature and the toils of the pastoral ministry.

That he would have found modern evangelical claims to ‘agree on the Gospel’, but, ‘to allow freedom in method and practice’ to be strange. Not that the Lutheran reformation looked exactly the same, everywhere in Germany. Liturgy varied in detail between places, but the basic shape of pastoral ministry and of church life enjoyed a high degree of consensus. As is the historian’s way, however, I cannot begin the story of Luther’s understanding of the word of god with Luther himself.

The late medieval background

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

…..  In many ways Luther remained a man of medieval ages. His politically conservative futurism and his acute sense of the physical presence of the devil, and also of demons and imps are just two examples of what separates him from the other reformers. who were trained as renaissance humanists and were men of the modern age. On the theological front, it was the late medieval critical philosophy of the language, connected to the radical application of what was called the dialectic of God’s two powers which gripped Luther’s theological imagination and remained with him from the monastic cloister to the day of his death.

…..Competency in human reason had been declining from the 12th century onwards in Europe. And this dialectic between the 2 powers of God was used in a dialectic and critical way to articulate the increasing epistemological modesty that people had with regard to God. Human reason came to be regarded less and less competent to predict what God would be like. And first, theologians focused increasingly on revelation as the source of the knowledge of God. We shouldn’t get too excited, as that revelation was not identified with Scripture, by these late medieval theologians so much as the teaching of the church’s magisterium. The distinction also fed and strengthened a perennial linguistic debate about the nature and function of words. And this will become significant for Luther’s understanding of preaching. Taken to its extreme this became an anti-essentialist view of being which effectively made words themselves the determiners of reality. This is what is known as late medieval nominalism and it was the linguistic school in which Luther was trained and whose basic assumptions remained with him throughout his entire career, to the day of his death.

Those critics of post modernism, such as Terry Eagleton have pointed out there are pointed similarities between medieval nominalism and certain schools of post modern linguistic theory. We might summarize these similarities by saying that both envisage the world as a linguistic construct. Words, not essences become determinative and constitutive of reality. I suspect that Luther would have little time for the excesses of postmodern anti-essentialism with the kind of kaleidoscopic anarchy it has created with the regard to gender, sexuality and even the notion of human nature. Nevertheless, we should note that Luther would not object to postmodernism by reasserting a kind of essentialism. Rather, I suspect, Luther’s rejection of postmodern anarchy would be based on his belief that God is the supreme reality, that He is ultimately the one who speaks, and whose speech is therefore the ground of existence and of difference. Reality is not determined by the linguistic proclivities of any human individual, or any human community, but by the word of God.

The theological implications of this should become obvious. For example, to refer back to the theology of the cross- the empiricist, the essentialist looks at the cross and sees weakness, agony, suffering and defeat, and no more. That is the outward aesthetics of the cross would seem to indicate. And it is what the social and philosophical conventions of Jews and Greeks of 1st Corinthians would also lead them to believe. But, neither the empirical aesthetics, nor their interpretation through the grid of their constructed social conventions are actually any guide to the reality  of what is taking place. God has extrinsically declared the cross to be powerful, a victory, a moment of triumph. And God’s word trumps everything in determining the reality that is there. Thus, only those christians who reject the evidence of their senses, and reject the established logic and expectations of their culture and trust instead in their counter intuitive truth of God’s words can truly understand the reality.

The same, of course applies to justification. Older medieval approaches to justification required the individual actually to be somewhat righteous before God could declare the person to be justified. Late medieval theologian Gabriel Biel had broken with this tradition, arguing instead that God could set His own criteria for the declaration of justification. For Biel, God had entered into a pact with human beings and had agreed that according to His ordained power He was going to accept an individual’s best efforts as righteousness, as meeting the condition for God to declare that person to be in a state of grace. Once in such a state of grace, the individual could then benefit form sacramental grace  and do works of real righteousness and intrinsic merit.

Luther came to reject the theology of Biel as a form of semi pelagianism. The very idea that one could do one’s best and meet any condition became anathema to him. If human beings are morally dead, then the only things they can do is acknowledge that in all humility despair in themselves and look to God for unmerited mercy. Yet in breaking with Biel, Luther remained indebted to one of Biel’s most important conceptual moves. For Biel, as later for Luther, the justified person was not necessarily, actually, intrinsically righteous. They were simply declared extrinsically to be righteous by God.

By making entry into a state of grace, something that was not based on intrinsic merit, but rather on merit determined on extrinsic pactum. Biel first shattered the link between essential reality and divinely determined reality. For those of you interested in the history of the ‘History of Dogma’ will know that this is something for which conservative catholic historians of dogma have never forgiven him and which indeed shapes how our contemporary historians like Brad S. Gregory of Notre Dame views the reformation. The reformation is seen as the ultimate evil fruit of late medieval anti-essentialism.

The practical significance of this linguistic philosophy for Luther as pastor is that words become absolutely foundational to everything the pastor does. If words determine reality, then of all things the pastor does, the words he speaks are the most important: Reading the bible in public, preaching the word form the pulpit, applying the word individually in the confessional. Each of these things determine the reality of the church. This linguistic emphasis also helps explain to those of us with less sacramental proclivities than Luther why he holds such high views of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. That on the latter point at least, he’s willing to divide protestantism over the issue.  Incidentally, Luther’s objection to transubstantiation is not in 1520 that the body and blood of Christ are there, it’s that the bread and the wine have disappeared.

It would be remiss of me simply to reduce Luther’s reformation theology to a particularly radical application of late medieval linguistic theory as a means of solving his own personal issues

The Word in Action from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Carl Trueman at SBTS (1) Theological and Biographical Foundations – Reflections upon Luther

Dr. Carl Trueman is Professor of Historical Theology and Church History and Paul Woolley Chair of Church History and he blogs regularly at Reformation21.

See his full bio here http://www.wts.edu/faculty/profiles/trueman.html

Dr. Trueman’s teaching history:

  • Tutorial Assistant in Church History, University of Aberdeen, 1991–1993
  • Lecturer in Theology, University of Nottingham, 1993–1998
  • Senior Lecturer in Church History, University of Aberdeen, 1998–2001
  • Westminster Theological Seminary, 2001– Currently serving

If you have never read or heard Dr. Trueman, here are some notes from the beginning of this lecture (from the first 18 minutes). Dr. Carl Trueman:

Reflections upon Luther’s life & practice of the Christian ministry

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

–In the years since the reformation, especially in the last 100 years of scholarship, the categories used to understand him (Luther) have become more variegated and subtle. Amongst many other approaches, he has been studied as the man who brought to a church shattering conclusion, the critical theology of the late medieval nominalists. He’s been the freudian man. (this will be discussed at length in part 2- to be posted tomorrow) projecting unto God his disrupted relationship with his own father.  He’s been the heir of late medieval eschatological expectation. He’s been the quintessential humorist of theological polemics. And, in a darker vein he has been seen as the fountainhead of German anti-semitism.

One area of comparative neglect, however in Luther’s studies is that of Luther’s pastor, and that’s surprising. Prior to the Reformation Luther was not only a monk, he was also a priest. He was ordained in 1507 and that meant that his professional religious life would never simply have been that of a university professor, or the monastic cloister. He was also  involved, on a day to day basis, with the lives of the people in his church. And indeed, it was this pastoral life, this pastoral concern which provided the trigger for the Reformation protest. when he came to see the sale of indulgences as impacting the lives of ordinary men and women of Wittenberg who were wasting their material goods on such counterfeit grace. (8 min mark)

In this 1st video Dr. Trueman lays out the basic theological elements of Luther’s thoughts, which then impacted his pastoral practice, and how Luther regarded the identity of God relative to fallen humanity, and central to this is the crucified flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • The topic of Luther as pastor is not simply  one of interest to historians, it also makes it significant to those pursuing pastoral ministry today. In the current conservative evangelical climate, much is made often of agreements on necessary theological doctrines in the context of the freedom to disagree over issues of pastoral and ecclesiastical practice. By way of contrast, the life and theology of Luther shows how theology and practice are actually more closely connected  than we might perhaps wish to imagine. Thus, in these lectures I am not primarily advocating Luther as a pastoral paradigm to be followed, although one could surely choose worst examples, but, rather as a test case for showing how theology and practice have certain necessary connections. A point which I believe is absent from major currents of American evangelical life, where a routine separation of theology and method, or perhaps theology and practical ecclesiology is often standard.

1. Theology of the cross

It is an oft repeated cliche that Luther was not a systematic theologian. Luther is in fact a remarkably consistent theologian. His treatise on The Bondage of the Will (1525) is a remarkably consistent exploration of  the theological foundations of justification by grace through faith, both as it relates to the issue of human choice and as it related to the question of Scriptural perspicuity. Similarly, the development of his Christology in relation to the Lord’s Supper between 1520 and 1529 is again a story of the consistent application and outworking of fundamental concern and insight  which are right there at the start of his reformation protest.

One of the foundational insights which emerges in Luther’s early thinking, early in his reformation career and receives dramatic exposure at the Heidelberg disputation in 1518 is the so called Theology of the Cross. When Luther places his 95 Theses on the castle door, in October 1517. In actuality, if you read The 95 Theses, it’s a petty boring document. You need to know quite a bit about medieval theology  even to understand what he’s getting at.

A much more appropriate start for the Reformation is April 1518, when Luther, as a member of the Augustinian order is attending a standard meeting of the order, in Heidelberg and has one of his friends present a series of theses for debate, that he himself had written. These are called the Heidelberg Disputation. It is often said here that he articulates the theology of the cross. In the theses of the disputation Luther himself does not refer to it as the theology of the cross, he refers to a theologian of the cross. And the text has frequently been mistranslated on this point and does not help to convey the richness of what Luther is trying to communicate.

The difference is important. Luther is not thinking of theology in some abstract way, as a technique or a set of rules, or procedures to follow which often lead one to correct theological formulations. He’s rather thinking in holistic terms. A theology as an action, performed by an individual which is intimately related to the nature and status of the person performing the action. Here are the key thesis in laying out the theology of the cross idea in full:

–„That person does not deserve to be called a theologian, who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened. He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and the manifest things of God, seen through suffering on the cross. A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is. That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works, as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded and hardened”.

In short, one might summarize Luther’s basic epistemological points here by saying that theologians of glory  assume that God is much like themselves.  and therefore must conform to their conventions. The theologians of the cross, however, know that God is who He is and to know Him one must look to His revelation of Himself and that, primarily, on the cross. In placing the cross at the center of his theological program, Luther stands in continuity with his preoccupation of certain influential strands of late medieval theology. (16 min mark)

……………..

For Luther, the cross becomes the criterion of theology and thus the means for understanding the whole of spiritual reality. This has numerous implications. For example, it points clearly to Luther’s later abolition of the line between sacred and secular callings. What makes the theologian of the cross a true theologian? It’s not that he does theology, that he thinks and talks about God. That is the task he shares with theologians of glory…. Luther is actually making the point that everyone is a theologian. Either of glory or of the cross. What makes the difference is the mode in which the person does theology… The theologian of the cross does theology by faith in God’s revelation alone and based upon God’s revelation alone. (18 min mark)

Theological and Biographical Foundations from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

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Photo via Christian Post. Read their story here.

Jonathan Akin sits down with Fred Luter, Paige Patterson, Albert Mohler, J.D. Greear, David Platt, and Danny Akin on Tuesday afternoon of the SBC Annual Meeting to discuss the CR, the GCR, and the Future of the SBC. by  on vimeo.

Baptist 21 Panel Luncheon – 2012 SBC Annual Meeting from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

(5) Martyn Lloyd-Jones – On Schism (5th February 1961)

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Read Part 1 here – a history

Read Part 2 here – 1962 Address by Lloyd-Jones

Read Part 3 here – An accounting from those who attended

Read Part 4 here – What the newspapers reported

 From Affinity.org.uk via Reformation 21 blog, Eryl Davies: This article attempts to summarize the main teaching and challenge of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the important subject of schism.

Schism in the writings of Lloyd-Jones

The 5th February 1961- One of his sermons based on Ephesians 6:10-13 dealt with the subject of schism. He maintained that churches eager to adhere believingly to Scripture faced a major problem: „How are we to draw the line between allowing heresy and apostasy on the one hand, and being guilty of schism on the other?”.1 Lloyd- Jones was clear concerning the answer and this can be expressed in the following way:

  1. Only Christians who are agreed on fundamental doctrines can be guilty of schism.
  2. Schism involves the division of Christians concerning non-essential or secondary matters.
  3. New Testament commands concerning unity and warnings about schism are addressed only to Christians, those who enjoy Gospel unity.
  4. Evangelicals have not taken these commands and warnings seriously enough and ecumenism has exposed this inconsistency.
  5. The New Testament requires a unity of churches, not merely individuals or movements; Evangelicals need to express their claim to unity in a meaningful way at church level.June 1963 – A major address based on Haggai 1 and given to the Westminster

Fraternal touched again on the present situation, the evangelical commitment to movements and the failure of this strategy. He then addressed key questions, namely, the nature and marks of the Church before discussing „the true nature of schism”.2 He does not discuss the latter subject in detail as his intention was „simply raising it as an issue”.3 Here are the main points:

The Protestant Reformers were not guilty of schism when they left the Church of Rome for they separated themselves from apostasy.
1 Corinthians „is the locus classicus with regard to this matter”. Schism is „division in the true visible Church about matters that are not sufficient to justify division and separation”, e.g. personalities, learning, observance o f days and meats, variations in spiritual gifts. The „sin of schism occurs when such people allow themselves to be divided from one another for inadequate causes and reasons”.4

„The trouble has been always that men have tended to approach schism in terms of the existing state of the churches instead of taking it right back to the New Testament conception of the Church and asking: Are we dividing that? We have allowed the opposition to govern our thinking on this question of schism, and…put ourselves into a false position. What I should ask myself is this … Am I guilty of dividing the truly spiritual New Testament Church?”5

June 1965 -Westminster Fellowship address from Psalm 74. „Two years ago”, Lloyd-Jones declared, „I tried to make a statement. I appealed for unity, a unity at the church level .. .I was convinced two years ago that many were not convinced of schism and so should be given the opportunity to be convicted…”.6 He asks: „Is there any hope of evangelical unity?…My conclusion is that there is no hope at all at the church level…because there is no agreement among Evangelicals…”.7

18th October 1966- NAE address in which Lloyd-Jones discusses schism after considering the nature of the Church. His view of the sin of schism is unchanged: „It is division among people who are agreed about the essentials and the centralities, but who separate over secondary and less important matters…that is the only definition ofschism which can claim to be Biblical…the only people…who are guilty of the sin of schism are Evangelicals”.8

July 1967- Westminster Fellowship address majoring on the unity to be sought on the part of those opposed to ecumenism. Here Lloyd-Jones warned of a danger because while Ecumenists go for minimum and ambiguous doctrinal content, Evangelicals „tend to become too precise…the opposite extreme…”.9 Major essential doctrines for him included the sole authority of Scripture in faith and practice, the Trinity, the devil and evil powers, the plan of redemption, the person and work of Christ, man in sin, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, justification by faith alone, sanctification. The non-essentials („not so important as to divide us”) included election, views on baptism, church policy, assurance,

prophecy and gifts. „We must not break fellowship”,10 he warned.
13th November 1968- An address by Lloyd-Jones to the BEC on What is the

Church?. 11 The uniqueness, spirituality and unity of the true Church „makes schism a terrible sin. It is not merely that you disagree with others: it is that you are dividing Christ, you are dividing a body, you are dividing a family. And so the apostle brings out his mighty powers of ridicule in 1 Corinthians 12…For brethren who are agreed about the essentials of the Gospel, and who are sharing the same life, to be divided by history, tradition, or any consideration, is the sin of schism, and it is a terrible sin”.12

4th November 1970- The Doctor’s theme at this BEC conference was Wrong divisions and True Unity13 and he distinguished between separation and schism. Again, he turned to 1 Corinthians and showed how the Corinthian Christians had a defective understanding of the Church and failed „to draw the line properly between” essentials and those matters which are „important but not essential”. 14 He nescribes the Corinthians as „standing and dividing on carnal matters”,15 „intellectualism”16 and „false spirituality”.17 Lloyd-Jones is adamant that the essentials „on which me must stand”18 include the Scriptures,19 the Fall,20 God’s plan of redemption21 and the Person of the Lord.22 On these doctrines we must stand „unflinchingly… even unto death, but be very careful about anything else you stand on, lest you become guilty of the sin of schism and offend a dear brother for whom Christ died. I f you think he is mistaken, patiently, quietly, prayerfully, try to instruct him and to help him. And as you value your own conscience and always try to obey it, remember that he has got a conscience also and you must not cause him to offend it. Let us love one another. Let us bear with one another but hold the centralities, the first things, boldly, courageously and unflinchingly, together”.23

Dr Eryl Davies is the Principal of the Evangelical Theological College of Wales

I have been in the ministry and trying to preach now for getting on for forty-four years. I have seen strange things in the life of the churches, but I have never known such confusion as prevails at the present time. Of course, those of us who belong to this Evangelical Council are not a bit surprised that there is confusion among people who are not evangelical. They cannot but be confused. Indeed they are not evangelical because they are confused. So that does not surprise us. But, even in that realm, the confusion is more and more confounded than I have ever known it.

But what should be of particular concern to us is that we have to confess, if we are honest, that there is some confusion amongst us. This is serious…

This is important because the greatest need in the world tonight is for a united evangelical message. It is the only hope for mankind. It is the only hope for the world and, in general, it is the only hope for the church. The people are confused, utterly confused. All their famous ‘nostrums’ fail to give them healing. All the prophecies of the false prophets have been falsified. They are all just disillusioned. That is the real meaning of this calamitous drug-taking and alcoholism. I believe the world is waiting for an authoritative statement. And it can only have it from those who take a scriptural view of the way of salvation-that is from evangelicals. That is why it is so urgently and vitally important that there should be no confusion amongst us but that we should speak with a united and a certain voice concerning these vital matters.

DM Lloyd-Jones, Wrong Divisions and True Unity, in Unity in Truth

Foundations 37 – Autumn 1996.tiff

http://www.affinity.org.uk/downloads/foundations/…/37_27.pdf

You can take this Biola University Course – Advanced Studies: The Character of God, on Youtube!!!

For easy access, this page and future such announcements will be added to the Bible Study page  which you can easily access by clicking the Bible Study Tab under the header picture of Chicago.

I am excited to announce that Biola University is offering, on Youtube, courses from its 2011 course: BBST 450 – Advanced Studies in Theology- Topic: The Character of God, taught by Dr. Erik Thoennes. Biola U. is also making available online, via Youtube, other classes for public use. It’s a great way to advance our personal studies or for our young people to benefit from these additional theology courses from such a prestigious University, if they are pursuing degrees in other fields.

Dr. Erik Thoennes. Fall 2011.
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1:07:02[BBST 450] The Attributes of God – Erik Thoennesby BiolaUniversity25views
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57:37[BBST 450] The Wrath of God – Erik Thoennes by BiolaUniversity

Playlists for other courses at Biola University:

BBST 251: Theology I  Dr. Erik Thoennes teaches this introductory class to Theology, which includes topics such as the Biblical doctrines of God, Christ, man, and sin, with reference to the history and development of Christian theology.        (28 videos approximate 1 hour running time for each video). Below is the first of 28 videos. For Youtube playlist page click here.

For Youtube page with all 39 Playlists for theology courses and other subjects click here. There is also a playlist for Creation/evolution studies titled God & Evolution (7 videos).

About Biola University

Biola University, founded in 1908, is a private Christian university in Southern California. With seven schools and more than 145 academic programs ranging from B.A. to Ph.D., Biola is recognized as a national leader in Christian higher education – and the first evangelical Christian college to be ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a „National University.” For 100 years, Biola has offered biblically centered education, career preparation and intentional spiritual development in an environment where all faculty, staff and students are professing Christians.

John Piper – One Life Enjoy It (Essential Sermon- How he changed his theology in 1968)

at the Campus Outreach National Conference http://conationalconference.com/

Watch Part 1 of this message here – One Life, Don’t Waste it
January 01. 2012 Joy – the most serious pursuit in the world. John Piper, at his best- a biblical theology of Joy. God wants us to be more happy, not less happy.

Piper: In 1968-1971 everything changed (for me) and I want to take you with me on a little pilgrimage of change, so that if by any chance you are perhaps, where I was, I could hasten your biblical discoveries that might change everything in your life as it did for me:

Free Will (3) St. Augustine

Here is a short excerpt from the writings of Augustine, who first addressed Pelagianism as North African Bishop who lived from 354 to 430 AD. You can read a short biographical account of St. Augustine’s life here.

(St Augustine via) Monergism

Grace Creates a Truly Free Will – Augustine

Do we by grace destroy free will? God forbid! We establish free will. For even as the law is not destroyed but established by faith, so free will is not destroyed but established by grace. The law is fulfilled only by a free will. And yet the law brings the knowledge of sin; faith brings the acquisition of grace against sin; grace brings the healing of the soul from the disease of sin; the health of the soul brings freedom of will; free will brings the love of righteousness; and the love of righteousness fulfils the law. Thus the law is not destroyed but established through faith, since faith obtains grace by which the law is fulfilled. Likewise, free will is not destroyed through grace, but is established, since grace cures the will so that righteousness is freely loved. Now all the stages which I have here connected together in their successive links, are each spoken of individually in the sacred Scriptures. The law says: ‘You shall not covet’ (Ex.20:17). Faith says: ‘Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You’ (Ps.41:4). Grace says: ‘See, you have been made well: sin no more, in case a worse thing comes upon you’ (Jn.5:14). Health says: ‘O Lord my God, I cried to You, and You have healed me’ (Ps.30:2). Free will says: ‘I will freely sacrifice to You’ (Ps.54:6). Love of righteousness says: ‘Transgressors told me pleasant tales, but not according to Your law, O Lord’ (Ps. 119:85).

How is it then that miserable human beings dare to be proud, either of their free will, before they are set free, or of their own strength, if they have been set free? They do not observe that in the very mention of free will they pronounce the name of liberty. But ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (2 Cor.3:17). If, therefore, they are the slaves of sin, why do they boast of free will? For ‘by whatever a person is overcome, to that he is delivered as a slave’ (2 Pet.2:19). But if they have been set free, why do they puff themselves up as if it were by their own doing? Why do they boast, as if their freedom were not a gift? Or are they so free that they will not have Him for their Lord Who says to them, ‘Without Me, you can do nothing’ (Jn.15:5), and, ‘If the Son sets you free, you shall be truly free?’ (Jn.8:36).

Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter, 52

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Note: From this quote, we clearly see that Augustine understood „free will” to mean free from the bondage of sin. But to those without the Spirit he asks this rhetorical question showing he affirms that the unregenerate have no true free will: „If, therefore, they are the slaves of sin, why do they boast of free will?”

David Platt- The Theology of the Cross of Christ (Part 2 of 3) Secret Church – The Graden of Ghetsemane

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