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Posts Tagged ‘Justin Taylor’


I’ve been trying to not say anything about Ferguson. There are too many problems at work (obstruction, militarization of the police, racial profiling, riots & looting, racism, media manipulation, social activism …) and our culture has a tendency to be reductionistic. There is also a problem of a lack of knowledge (what are the facts?) as well as understanding.

Let’s start by saying that I am writing this as the white father of a black son (and daughter). I have concerns about when they are older and not with me or their mother. At this moment we don’t live in a community with many African-Americans. The racial issues seem to be more about the white vs. Hispanic or white vs. Native American populations. I grew up in a place where the most common minorities were Puerto Ricans (usually poor) and French Canadians (often middle class).

These realities color my perspective. I understand that. So while I don’t want unarmed teenagers gunned down by police or citizens, whether they are black or white, I have seen too many times when our country has been burned when more facts come out. I remember the Tawana Brawley hoax (thanks Al Sharpton), the fact that Zimmerman was a “white Hispanic” and not just Hispanic who was physically assaulted. I remember the false accusations against the Duke Lacrosse team who while not angels were not rapists either. In other words, there is a growing list of false accusations by one community (and the press) against the other. As a result, I withhold judgment precisely because we’ve been through this before.

As a white man, I see knee jerk reactions (fed by the media AND the police who routinely refuse to release information that could defuse situations). I do want accurate, timely information. I completely understand a community’s desire to get information. I see peaceful protest, like Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated, as the best option. Too often I see violent protests and looting (they make for good headlines, I know). Frustration is vented in the wrong directions, and it ends up looking like Do the Right Thing, Part 2. Misplaced rage is an ugly thing and the wrong people get hurt, financially or physically. I still remember the clips of the Rodney King riots when the man was pulled from the truck and beaten with a cement block.

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WTS Bookstore has a 50% off sale on 3 great books on the subject of sanctification. No, you can’t buy your sanctification. But these books will help you as you seek to understand and apply the gospel in the process of sanctification.

From the past, there is Overcoming Sin and Temptation in which Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor edited 3 classic works by John Owen: The Mortification of Sin in Believers, Of Temptation, and Indwelling Sin. If you haven’t read these, what is stopping you. Here are some blurbs:

“Get hold of this volume edited by Kapic and Taylor. See it as an essential matter to read and devour. But prepare yourself for pain, for Owen will take no prisoners. If you want to keep living the humdrum, half-hearted life of faith you currently do, then pass it by.”
– Derek Thomas, Read the full review at Reformation21.

“The greatest Christian writers are those who most powerfully project to spiritual readers the knowledge of God, of ourselves, and of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Among these are Augustine, Calvin, Edwards, and the Puritan John Owen, who ought to be better known than he is. The editors of this volume have worked hard to make Owen’s unrivalled insight into the Christian’s inner war with sin accessible to all, and the result is truly a godsend. Filled with classic devotional theology which, like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, needs to be read again and again to be properly grasped, we have in the three treatises presented here a companion for life.”
– J. I. Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College

“Dr. Lovelace, in his Basic Dynamics course at Gordon-Conwell, made us read On Temptation and On Mortification. And that’s where I discovered John Owen in 1972… I wouldn’t be in the ministry—my life would be a shipwreck—if I hadn’t read that book.”
– Tim Keller, Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, NY.

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Yesterday I went to a pastor’s seminar sponsored by Phoenix Seminary, the Alliance Defense Fund and the Center for Arizona Policy.  One of the speakers was Wayne Grudem, relating material from his new tome Politics According to the Bible.  I say tome because it is a mammoth 600 pages.  But it looks good.

The first chapter covers some of the errors people make in thinking about politics and Christianity.  It was interesting to see who Gregory Boyd gets farther and farther from a biblical worldview (Shane Clairborn’s Jesus for President seems to have been influenced by his governments are satanic error).

Grudem’s basic argument is that God’s people (in Scripture) have often influenced governments.  Joseph had a profound influence on Egypt, Daniel was instrumental in Babylon, Esther changed policy under Xerxes, and Nehemiah served as governor under the Persians.  Paul dialogued with Felix about faith and righteousness.  So, Grudem’s view in light of Scripture and our particular circumstances here in America is one of Christians influencing government as one way in which we do good works and love our neighbors.  He then goes on to examine particular issues pertinent to our circumstances today: economics, health care, environmental issues etc.  Here is a sermon of his, Biblical Principles Concerning Government.

Since we are in an election cycle, the issue of politics is a hot topic.  Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist recently preached Jesus Paid Taxes from Mark 12 (which Grudem referenced yesterday).  Collin Hansen thinks it is the best sermon on politics he’s heard.

Justin Taylor also has a few posts (here and here) on another book that is about to be released called City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era.  Tim Keller has written the forward.  One author, Michael Gerson lectured on The City of God at the Kuyper series for the Center for Public Justice.

Carl Trueman has a new book on the subject out as well called Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative.  There are some sample pages available.

Politics are important since we do live in the world.  I think these are books and sermons that will help us think biblically politics and our relationship to the state as individual Christians and churches.

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Justin Taylor (Between Two Worlds) linked to a post by Ray Ortland  that is a good reminder for all of us who are Reformed in our theology (I spoke with a potential real estate agent about that this morning).  Here is some of what he says:

The Judaizers in Galatia did not see their distinctive – the rite of circumcision – as problematic. They could claim biblical authority for it in Genesis 17 and the Abrahamic covenant. But their distinctive functioned as an addition to the all-sufficiency of Jesus himself. Today the flash point is not circumcision. It can be Reformed theology. But no matter how well argued our position is biblically, if it functions in our hearts as an addition to Jesus, it ends up as a form of legalistic divisiveness.

Paul answered the theological aspects of the Galatian error with solid theology. But the “whiff test” that something was wrong in those Galatian churches was more subtle than theology alone. The problem was also sociological. “They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them” (Galatians 4:17). In other words, “The legalists want to ‘disciple’ you. But really, they’re manipulating you. By emphasizing their distinctive, they want you to feel excluded so that you will conform to them.” It’s like chapter two of Tom Sawyer. Remember how Tom got the other boys to whitewash the fence for him? Mark Twain explained: “In order to make a man or boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.” Paul saw it happening in Galatia. But the gospel makes full inclusion in the church easy to attain. It re-sets everyone’s status in terms of God’s grace alone. God’s grace in Christ crucified, and nothing more. He alone makes us kosher. He himself.

So, while I agree with J.I. Packer and Roger Nicole that “Calvinism is the gospel” (meaning the most accurate understanding of the biblical gospel), I need to be wary of my little inner Pharisee which tends to make that a litmus test.  I have been fortunate to be friends with people from a variety of Christian ‘traditions’, and continue to be.  But sometimes my inner Pharisee appears and I try to convert them to Reformed theology instead of waiting for Jesus to sort all that out.  Oh, I should be willing to discuss it with them but I shouldn’t feel the need to argue them into it.  (Apologies to all those I’ve done this to … there are more of you than I probably know.)  One phrase I used in seminary was “you don’t have to understand gravity for it to still have an effect on you.”  It is the same way with grace- we don’t always have a good understanding of the “hows” but what matters is that it has effected someone savingly.  The understanding will come later (sometimes MUCH later).  And that goes for me too, for all of us have blind spots in our theology.  But if they grasp Jesus by faith- they are Christians, part of his church, body and bride.

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Read a brief interview with Tim Keller about his upcoming book, The Prodigal God.  They talked about the title (the subtitle has been changed).  A commenter found the use of prodigal in reference to God to be blasphemous.  Richard Pratt used the dictum that “meaning is use.”  Words have a range of meaning, so you must ask which is being used.  So, I looked up the various meanings of prodigal.

–adjective

1. wastefully or recklessly extravagant: prodigal expenditure.
2. giving or yielding profusely; lavish (usually fol. by of or with): prodigal of smiles; prodigal with money.
3. lavishly abundant; profuse: nature’s prodigal resources.

–noun

4. a person who spends, or has spent, his or her money or substance with wasteful extravagance; spendthrift.

Not all of the uses in the range of meaning imply impropriety.  How Tim Keller is using it is determinative, not how a reader interprets it (unless we all want to become literary deconstructionists, which the aforementioned critic would quickly disavow). 

God is lavish in his love and grace, far more than we his people can be.  This is the point of the parable, that God is lavish in love and mercy while we self-righteous religious folks are anything but.  We’d rather hammer a brother over our misgivings about the title of a book.  I can be the Pharisee too … I need to repeatedly hear of God’s lavishly abundant love for me, the richness of his mercy and outpouring of his grace.  So, I’m looking forward to reading about the God who left home to bring people like me home to him.

Update: Tullian Tchividjian asked Tim about it, and got a great response.

Update #2: Between 2 Worlds (Justin Taylor) reminds us of Spurgeon’s sermon on this text-  Many Kisses for Returning Sinners, or Prodigal Love for the Prodigal Son.  Love the way he uses 2 different meaning for the same word in the same sentence.  Love Spurgeon!

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Justin Taylor (Between Two Worlds) interviewed Dr. Tom Schreiner about baptism as his new book on the subject is about to be released.  As a former Reformed Credo-Baptist turned paedobaptist, I certainly disagree with Dr. Schreiner on a few of the finer details of this discussion (note- this is not a conversation 🙂 ).

But I take some exception with what he says here: 

You argue that Reformed evangelicals who baptize their babies are inconsistent–how so?

“We love fellow believers from Reformed churches with whom we share so many precious truths, especially in terms of the doctrines of grace. The Reformed are inconsistent, however, in that they require adults who are baptized to be believers, while they baptize infants who are unbelievers. Steve Wellum and Shawn Wright demonstrate that to do this they have to redefine what they previously said about the doctrine of baptism and use the theological (but, in the way they use it to support infant baptism, biblically unjustifiable) construct of the “covenant of grace” as proof of their position. “

If we are inconsistent in this matter, so is Genesis 17 & Romans 4.  Both texts refer to the application of circumcision.  In the case of Abraham is pointed to the faith he possessed.  In the case of his children it pointed to the faith they were to possess.  Converting male Gentiles prior to Jesus and the New Covenant were to be circucumcised, as were their infants in keeping with the covenant (as it is referred to in Genesis 17).

I suppose I would ask, what is the eternal covenant in Hebrews 13:20 referring to?  I don’t think we’ve invented anything.  Nor do I think we are any more ‘inconsistent’ than the Scriptures on this issue.  I’m disappointed in how Dr. Schreiner chose to express this.  No, I won’t be burning any of his books.  I just disagree with his assessment of me and my brothers on this matter. 

Where we disagree is on what we believe God has said about those who are to be baptized.  He ties it to faith.  We tie it to the covenant.  In the Old Covenant the sign was circumcision.  In the New Testament the sign is baptism.  We say the application of the sign is the same (though now woman are to be baptized now).  We are consistent with our understanding of the Scriptures.  I suppose he is consistent with his understanding of the Scriptures.  But it seems quite unfair to accuse us of inconsistency when the problem is we are inconsistent with HIS theology & practice, not in our theology & practice.  Does that make sense? 

 He’s comparing one theology to another with the assumption that his is correct and the standard by which others are measured (judging us by his theology, not Scripture).  The issue ought to be: whose theology & practice most closely resembles the Word.  He doesn’t seem to be doing this in his claims concerning those he loves.

In speaking of Colossians he says: “Further, the NT does not draw a connection between physical circumcision and baptism, but spiritual circumcision and baptism (Col. 2:11-12). There is not complete continuity between the Sinai covenant and the new covenant.”

Isn’t physical circumcision a picture of spiritual circumcision?  What the physical circumcision pointed to (the cutting of the heart) physical baptism now points to.  So this argument would appear to fall apart in my estimation.

Reformed people do not say there is complete continuity between the covenants.  We agree with him that there are areas of discontinuity.  But he establishes a strawman to win his argument, which frankly seems quite unfair.  You must argue against a position that is actually held, not a mythological position held by no one. 

This does not prove that Dr. Schreiner is wrong in his theology- only that he has not argued his position well or fairly.  I don’t want to be ‘guilty’ of the same lapse in logic/argumentation.

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“But quoting Scripture texts is different than shaping a worldview around them.  If the church today truly took seriously the significance of ‘all things,’ wouldn’t we witness a steady stream of provocative sermons and books on the theme of “How to Have Sex to the Glory of God”?”  Justin Taylor in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ

Justin provides a good intro to the book, quickly summarizing the main points of each chapter.  But I really got to thinking on the first sentence of this quote.

This book is an attempt to “shape a worldview” around Scripture texts.  Too often pastors don’t teach their people to do this.  They use Scripture to back up their point.  We learn a cut & paste method of understanding the Bible.  But it really out to be shaping our worldview.  As we come to Scripture, we don’t come just to learn some information.  We come to Scripture, or should, to learn about reality.  Scripture is where God tells us the way things really are.  It is His world, and we are His creatures.

Many people have worldview baggage from their families, education etc.  We have a faulty worldview just by virtue of the fact that we are sinners.  As we come to God’s Word, we should submit to our minds to His revelation.

And this book calls us to submit our minds to His will concerning sex.  If ever there was a topic in need of that, this would be one.  So I shall read on….

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