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Archive for April, 2009


This was my final article for Tabletalk Magazine, published after I left Ligonier Ministries.  It is a short review of Randy Booth’s book Children of the Promise.

I read many books on the subject of infant baptism, but their arguments never connected with my experience.  When I read that Robert Booth used to be a Baptist minister, I thought he could explain it in a way I could understand.  I was not disappointed this time.

He begins his argument with a thorough explanation of covenant theology.  The question of how to interpret the Bible in regards to covenant theology cannot be minimized.  We tend to read the Bible as post-enlightenment, 20th century, individualist Americans.  The original audience(s) understood covenants and the idea of headship.  Keeping this in mind makes the going easier.

Booth then argues for the continuity of the covenant community between New and Old Covenants.  He does this from a variety of New Testament passages.  This is an important part of the argument, and the biblical evidence must be reckoned with before reaching a conclusion.

The ideas which had presented a problem for me were those of signs and seals of the covenant.  Booth explained them in a way which made sense and made infant baptism nearly unavoidable.  His comparision of circumcision and baptism was most helpful.  They are not identical, but the continuity is important.  There is much misunderstanding concerning the meaning of circumcision today.  This chapter is useful in correcting this problem.  He also reminds us baptism represents what God has done, not what we do.  Here, too, there is much confusion to be removed from the conversationn.  Booth’s presentation is clear and powerful.

The last sections of the book deal with the concept of household baptism followed by a summary of the argument for infant baptism.  In these chapters, indeed the whole book, Booth interacts with the ideas of baptistic theologians like Jewett, Kingdon and Strong.  Booth answered all of the objections to infant baptism I had.  This book, published by P & R, can help those who struggle with this issue.

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A recent theology exam included questions about the teolology and methodology of the Apostles’ use of the Old Testament in the New Testament.  The candidate agreed with their Christological  goal, but had some criticisms for their methodology.  This issue is part of the controversy over Peter Enns’ book Inspiration and Incarnation.  His srgument in the book created quite the stir, resulting in his leaving Westminster Theological Seminary.  Enns and Bruce Waltke state their respective cases on the matter in the lastest issue of WTJ.

Good for us, Dr. Roger Nicole’s 1958 article New Testament Use of the Old Testament is now available online.  He addresses the range, authority and accuracy of the New Testament usage of the Old Testament. Dr. Nicole helps us to understand that we should not hold the New Testament authors to the standards of a doctrinal thesis.

Personally, I’m uncomfortable with criticism of how the Apostles used the Old Testament.  That is because I affirm the dual authorship of Scripture.  It is divinely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16), and God used real people in a way that they wrote in accordance with their personality, culture and circumstances.    This means that one cannot criticize the human authors without also criticizing the Spirit of Christ who inspired them.  That same Spirit inspired the original OT Scriptures which had an original meaning and a greater fulfillment in Christ.  The OT, in addition to having an original meaning, often has a typological function.  This explains why some verses seem to be taken out of context.

But who cares what the Cavman thinks- read Dr. Nicole!

HT: Between Two Worlds

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This story from the Odd News is certainly odd.  A Florida church is in trouble for a 3-week series about “great sex.”  No, the problem is not the denomination, or some stuffy members upset about such a scandalous thing.

The problem in this case is the “risk management” department of the local school board.  The controversy revolves around the 25,000 mailers sent to homes in the target area of the church.

Mark Langdorf, the director of risk management, says the mailers generated complaints, were not appropriate for elementary school children and shouldn’t be used to advertise the sermon in the school.

This implies a few things, which really aren’t true.

First, that the mailers were geared for, and sent to, children.  Elementary school children to be precise.  I seriously doubt they were sent to elementary school children.

Second, that elementary school children don’t hear about sex from … the school.  Yes, there could be some hypocrisy at work here.  It is okay for the kids to hear about sex, including certain deviations from normalcy portrayed as normal.  But not okay for a church to instruct adults about God’s good plan for sex within the confines and freedom of marriage.

Churches should be teaching people about sex- not just the when not to part.  A certain famous pastor has been attacking another certain famous pastor for doing just that using the Song of Solomon which last I checked was in the Bible, and about …. sex (among other things).  Most churches don’t have elementary age school children in the service for the sermon however.  So, I’m not sure how this would ‘damage’ the children who attend the school (which is the risk the risk management board should be assessing, though they might need to look at their own curriculum).  Nor should it damage the children who attend the church.

This is an off-hours, voluntary event that is not contiguous with normal school hours or any other school event.  So what is the problem here?  I just don’t understand how this could even be an issue.  But I guess it shows that the world is even more inconsistent when it comes to sex than the church is.

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I’ll be preaching some of the parables in Luke to illustrate grace in the coming weeks.  Here are the resources I will be using:

  • The Parables: Understanding the Stories Jesus Told by Simon Kistemaker.  Dr. K arrived at the Orlando campus after my graduation.  So, I never had him for a course.  But this should be good.
  • The Parables of the Kingdom by Robert Farrar Capon.
  • The Parables of Grace by Robert Farrar Capon.
  • Turning Your World Upside Down: Kingdom Priorities in the Parables of Jesus by Richard Phillips.  I can’t remember when I got this- I think it was like 75% off but looked interesting.  Finally, I get to use it.

Some resources I wish I had:

Hmmm.  Kind of lacking, don’t you think.  I thought there would be more books on the parables.

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I first read Eugene Peterson’s book Working the Angles: the Shape of Pastoral Integrity in the mid-90’s.  I read all of his books on pastoral ministry, finding them helpful.  A decade in to pastoral ministry, and preparing for my next call, I decided to read it again.

I found that while the book hadn’t changed, I had.  I fully agree with Peterson’s main point that pastors have largely abandoned their calling for a substitute, a counterfeit that undermines the work of God.  I also fully agree with the tasks of pastoral ministry being largely prayer, Scripture and spiritual direction.

Where I am not so on board is how he gets there.  He draws from sources  that I am at time uncomfortable with.  I’m not a TR.  I read books, and benefit from them, that are outside of the Reformed heritage.  I read Nouwen, a Kempis and other devotional writers.  I’m interested in reading de Sales as well.  But the bulk of my significant reading is within one stream of thought.

Peterson pulls from Greek mythology, neo-orthodox authors and devotional writers.  He does not often ground his thoughts in Scripture, which is odd since that is one of his 3 angles.  I think I only found one reference to a Puritan, who have written numerous volumes on prayer, Scripture and the need for soul friends (aka spiritual directors).  This I find to be a glaring weakness.

So, while Peterson’s book is helpful, it is less helpful than perhaps it could have been.  This is sad, because we do need more books that focus on shepherding people, not treating pastors as CEOs.

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The season opened with so much promise.  Suddenly the Red Sox were 2-6, getting slapped around on the West Coast.  And now their depth has evaporated.

  • Lugo and Kotsay began the season on the DL.
  • Lowrie’s wrist injury returned.  He’s on the DL and may need surgery.
  • Dice-K is on the DL with shoulder fatigue, well before Smoltz is available.

But it isn’t just injuries.

  • Big Papi is doing nothing to alleviate the fears of Red Sox Nation.  I’m ready to consider sitting him for a game or two to see how Chris Carter does.  Maybe he can help generate some offense.
  • Ellsbury and Pedroia are also hitting under .200 so far.
  • Lester and Dice-K have had 2 lousy starts apiece instead of looking like Cy Young candidates.  Dice-K’s one inning wonder put an incredible strain on the bull pen, which was already working too much with the problem with the other starters.

They really needed Wakefield, the old guy, to go deep into the game.  He did, going the distance.  He carried a no-hitter into the 8th and gave up 2 runs.  But the middle of the order finally produced today- 8 runs worth.

Just one game, but maybe it will restart their hopes and help them turn the corner in their first big slump, which has lasted the whole short season.

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With a slight let up in work, I can get to work on the new box of books that just arrived from the Westminster Theological Seminary Bookstore.  Here’s what I got:

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