The ‘Eternal Indicative’, Christian Grace: Torrance is Jammin’

I wasn’t sure I really wanted to post this; not because it isn’t stupendous, but because it is rather lengthy, and I am tired. But for you my dear readers I will sacrifice some sleep, and expose you to something that ought to make your day, or life (the reality of what is being communicated). I won’t provide any of my own commentary on this one, it speaks well enough for itself. I will say though, at the outset, that what is communicated here pretty much contradicts most conceptions of Grace that I have ever come across. Most conceptions of grace that I have come across (from a Christian perspective) speak of it as a thing and quality; something that God gives us that we don’t deserve. I suppose to an extent that part is true (i.e. the part about it being a reality we don’t deserve), but it is much more; and the round perspective of Grace, of course understands its actuality grounded personally in Jesus Christ and God’s action for us in Him by the creative and generative power of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day—if you haven’t figured this out yet—it is either all Jesus, or it ain’t Christianity simpliciter. Here we go; Torrance lays it down here, he is flowing big time (which is why this is a little long, at least for me to transcribe … but it is worth it!).

[T]o sum up: Grace in the New Testament is the basic and the most characteristic element of the Christian Gospel. It is the breaking into the world of the ineffable love of God in a deed of absolutely decisive significance which cuts across the whole of human life and sets it on a new basis. That is actualized in the person of Jesus Christ, with which grace is inseparably associated, and supremely exhibited on the Cross by which the believer is once and for all put in the right with God. This intervention of God in the world and its sin, out of sheer love, and His personal presence to men through Jesus Christ are held together in the one thought of grace. As such grace is the all-comprehensive and constant presupposition of faith, which, while giving rise to an intensely personal life in the Spirit, necessarily assumes a charismatic and eschatological character. Under the gracious impingement of Christ through the Spirit there is a glad spontaneity about the New Testament believer. He is not really concerned to ask questions about ethical practice. He acts before questions can be asked. He is caught up in the overwhelming love of Christ, and is concerned only about doing His will. There is no anxious concern about the past. It is Christ that died! There is no anxious striving toward an ideal. It is Christ that rose again! In Him all the Christian’s hopes are centred. His life is hid with Christ in God. In Him a new order of things has come into being, by which the old is set aside. Everything therefore is seen in Christ, in the light of the end, toward which the whole creation groaneth and travaileth waiting for redemption. The great act of salvation has already taken place in Christ, and has become an eternal indicative. The other side of faith is grace, the immediate act of God in Christ, and because He is the persistent Subject of all Christian life and thought, faith stands  necessarily on the threshold of the new world, with the intense consciousness of the advent of Christ. The charismatic and the eschatological aspects of faith are really one. In Christ the Eternal God has entered into this present evil world which shall in due course pass away before the full unveiling of the glory of God. That is the reason for the double consciousness of faith in the New Testament. By the Cross the believer has been put in the right with God once for all—Christ is his righteousness. He is already in Christ what he will be—to that no striving will add one iota. But faith is conscious of the essential imminence of that day, because of the intense nearness of Christ, when it shall know even as it is known, when it shall be what it already is. And so what fills the forward view is not some ideal yet to be attained, but the Christian’s position already attained in Christ and about to be revealed. The pressure of this imminence may be so great upon the mind as to turn the thin veil of sense and time into apocalyptic imagery behind which faith sees the consummation of all things. Throughout all this the predominating thought is grace, the presence of the amazing love of God in Christ, which has unaccountably overtaken the believer and set him in a completely new world which is also the eternal Kingdom of God. [Thomas F. Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers, 34-5.]

And you wonder why I read Torrance so much! Ha, I partake liberally of his writings, and the above is an example why! If this does not charge you, then you best be checking for a Christian pulse. I don’t really know what else to say, other than I have a kink in my back now from writing this out, but I think you are now blessed because of the cause of said kink (i.e. transcribing this). Why doesn’t this stuff get preached from pulpits all across the land? Oh yeah, pastors aren’t reading Torrance, and if they do they aren’t quoting him in large doses! I think I might just have to buy my own pulpit and start preaching or something; at least that’s what I feel like doing after contemplating the depths that Torrance has just helped plumb for us. If you are a pastor, I challenge you to quote some if not all of this in a future sermon; and quote it with the passion this deserves (pound the pulpit or stomp the floor a few times [if you don’t have a pulpit anymore] if you have too).

I am going to bed now; I think I will dream of grace (i.e. sweet Jesus)!

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Self-actualization, The Christianized Acceptance and Renaming of Sin: Calling the Crooked Straight

Can Sin be defined, theologically, as Self-actualization? If so, and I think so, then, no doubt much of our Western culture (and Eastern for that matter), and in particular, much of American (and Western) Christian ministry platforms are building their houses on sandy-land. Here is an example of what Self-actualization might mean for today’s winner and upwardly mobile movers:

Seeks to be a ‘way shower‘, cannot settle for mediocrity, always strives to reach greater plateaus, is self contemplative, and seeks to know even the mind’s shadows, doesn’t readily surrender to fear, sees the means as the important conquest, not the end. For the self-actualized there is no end, just a constant movement to expand and become and express more of Oneself! [Taken from The Center for Self Actualization, Inc.]

Or maybe, more famously Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of Self-actualization might be more explicit and apropos:

Surely there is some truth, some pragmatic utilitarian reality to Maslow’s hierarchy, at least on a purely horizontal plane. But that is the point, right? We don’t live ‘purely’ on a horizontal plane, our  horizontal plane has vertical elevation and purpose that provides its ultimate shape and what it means to finally be ‘actualized’; if, that is, we are even willing to continue to use the language of actulization as a viable anthropological category for supplying us with what it means to be a human, and a successful one at that!

Maybe to get more to the point, and bring this closer to the American Evangelical home and ministry (because I know in the past and present this book is appealed to by leaders in Evangelicalism); what about that infamous book written by a Mormon The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? Here are the Seven Habits:

Independence or Self-Mastery

The First Three Habits surround moving from dependence to independence (i.e., self-mastery):

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive

Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.

  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life. Create a mission statement.

  • Habit 3: Put First Things First

Prioritize, plan, and execute your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you toward goals, and enrich the roles and relationships that were elaborated in Habit 2.

Interdependence

The next three have to do with Interdependence (i.e., working with others):

  • Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way.

  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.

  • Habit 6: Synergize

Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone.

Self Renewal

The Last habit relates to self-rejuvenation:

  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes exercise for physical renewal, prayer (meditation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to society for spiritual renewal.

Philosophically (and thus theologically through a Thomist synthesis, which I will need to discuss at a later date) all of this talk about self-actualization can be traced back to that Greek great, Aristotle. His notion of habitus, or habituating in certain kinds of behavior in order to shape an interior person that might be considered virtuous, successful, moral, or even upwardly mobile could be blamed for our culture that believes that Self-actualization is the only way to live an existentially fulfilling life. Maybe this mode of Self-actualization could be reduced and summed up to that all to familiar axiom of ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’. So the focus is on the outside/in; it is on outward appearance, and it is this which counts as being a successful and effective person in our actualized age.

But what if all of this, this ‘Self-actualization’ is really just what the Bible calls ‘Sin’? John Webster reports how another theologian of import, Eberhard Jüngel believes that this rather modern (with pre-modern and classical rootage) turn towards the Self-actualized self is really and simply just sin. Here is what Webster writes of Jüngel; and within Webster’s commentary, he provides a quote from Jüngel:

Jüngel thinks of modern society as haunted, both theoretically and practically, by the image of the human person as achiever, by the axiom: ‘[W]ithout increased performance, no increase in the quality of life.’ His theological judgement on the image is that it reinforces that human compulsion to act (Zwang zur Tat) which is the essence of the disorder of human life. ‘Sin’is, simply put, the hopeless drive to self-realization: ‘amongst the worst human failures is the desire to realize oneself alone through one’s good acts, through one’s righteous action — whether it be only legalistic or even moral. The category of self-realization, which today is used in such an unreservedly positive sense, is more accurately to thought of as the quintessence of sin, according to the biblical understanding of the matter.’ The attempt at self-realization is condemned to failure precisely because humanity is essentially relational, …. Thus, in a passage typical of many others, Jüngel writes:

[W]hat Holy Scripture calls sin is … the drive to have one’s own right prevail at the expense of others and in this way to be the one nearest to oneself. We have set out and understanding of righteousness as the ordering of richness of relations between those existing with one another in such a way that justice is done to all those included without their needing to seize if for themselves. Sinners, however, are characterized by a belief that they must and can seize their own right. Those who try to seize their own right take away the right of others. And precisely in this way they break out of the well-ordered richness of relations in which they have been included by God. Sin is the Godless drive away from the diverse relations of created life protected by God, and into relationlessness. [John Webster, Barth’s Moral Theology, 188.]

If what Webster writes, and Jüngel thinks, is correct, and I think it is, then the trajectory of American culture in general, and insofar as Evangelical’s have imbibed this trajectory, in particular, is, again, on the sandy land of man’s own making—thus Sin!

As admirable as Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits might appear, even though he finally gets to others; he only first starts with the self. Even as apparently true as Maslow’s hierarchy of Self-actulization might appear it runs directly contrary to the ethic and direction that Christ’s kingdom does; remember this dominical teaching?:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ~Matthew 6:25-33

So Self-realization really equals Self-justification, or usurping godness for oneself. Doesn’t this remind you of this:

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” ~Genesis 3:4-5

The Christian view of justification, salvation, is that salvation is primarily and antecedently inacted by God in Christ. Salvation for the Christian isn’t a se, or internal to the person, a possession innate to the person, simply waiting to be activated through habituating in certain kinds of behavior and activating activity; Nein! Salvation for the Christian is extra nos, or outside of us; it is an alien righteousness, as Luther might quip. It is a life that is received, passively; a life that is only ‘given’ activity through the life of God. So the conclusion then is that we ought to ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto us’.

If you want to be successful in the pyramid of God in Christ’s kingdom, then understand that his kingdom inverts the pyramid of this world. If the American Evangelical church wants to be successful, then take up your cross and follow Jesus; be willing to lose your soul that you might find it in Christ.

§1. Matt Chandler’s Calvinism Given Historical and Theological Background … Choose You This Day!

Okay, here we go. I am going to get into this issue, this way; i.e. by having you all watch this video interview with Matt Chandler done by John Piper. My point in sharing this video is not to use it as a piece that I critique materially; instead, I want what Chandler says to take up residence in your heart and mind so that you will be able to recall this as a reference point for some of the things I will be getting at later. What I mean is this; Matt Chandler says something very explicitly and up front that I’ve known to be true for along time, but I am afraid that many who listen to, not just Matt Chandler, but many others in his tribe, are failing to realize that the informing theology behind what Chandler & co. communicate to the masses is plain old 5 point Calvinism. Now, some folk are totally fine with this, but other folk didn’t realize this to be the case (until now); and so my motive is to expose where Chandler and The Gospel Coalition are coming from, and then offer an alternative way to approach scripture through a better Christian grammar and theological grid. Watch the video, please spend the time to do that, and then I will close this video with some brief reflections and set myself up for further posts.

Click Here: John Piper Interviews Matt Chandler on Calvinism.

One thing I don’t want this to turn into is another slam-fest on 5 point Calvinism; I want to take us somewhat deeper than that. I want to take us into the Holy of holies, or into God’s life; since this is where it all goes wrong for a 5 point Calvinist (which I will establish in posts to come). This is, as you heard Chandler mention in the interview, where a need for a God with two wills comes into the picture. Let me just assert right now, if you have a god with two wills you don’t have the God of the Bible revealed in Jesus Christ! And if you don’t have the God of the Bible Self-revealed in Jesus Christ; then you don’t have the full bodied version of the Gospel.

Just be prepared to have your thinking piqued, and maybe your beliefs challenged (which I hope is what happens if you appreciate or are a follower of Matt Chandler’s teaching). Just pray that I communicate in a fair, firm, and then loving way…. thank you!

The ‘Beast’ in the Book of Revelation, He’s Here

I have been reading Richard Bauckham’s The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation; I was spurned to read this because I read his smaller book The Theology of the Book of Revelation a few months ago, which was excellent and a must read. In fact I would say that if you haven’t read either of these books you haven’t really ever studied the book of Revelation. What I want to highlight is a bit of Bauckham’s discussion and identification of the Beast in the book of Revelation. Now, if your reading this as a dispensationalist you will be challenged (to say the least); but I think if you read Bauckham’s development in full you would be hard pressed to refute what he has to say. He looks at the internal structure of the book, and really presses the ‘Epistle’ genre of the book (then also the ‘Apocalyptic’ and ‘Prophetic’); resulting in taking seriously that John was writing for the seven churches he is speaking to in 1st century Graeco-Rome. Bauckham is at his best as he situates the apocalyptic genre of Revelation in its proper literary context. Meaning that he identifies how all of the picteresque and emotive language of Revelation was understood within its historical context, and what the prophetic significance would have been for these 1st century Christians; and then what it means for us today (by way of application). I uphold what Bauckham here communicates about the ‘Beast’, and I want to commend it to you for your consideration. What he brings out on the Beast and Empire presents a paradigm shifting proposition in the way that most Evangelical Christians have understood this amazing book. I am going to share this quote on the Beast and Empire from Bauckham, and then I will close with a few parting comments.

[T]he images of the beast will probably become most easily accessible to us as we realise that it was primarily in developing the theme of christological parody that John found the Nero legend useful. It enabled him to construct a history of the beast as paralleling the death, the resurrection and the parousia of Jesus Christ. Some interpretation of Revelation has made the theme of christological parody seem a mere creative fantasy which John projects onto the Roman Empire, which of course had no intention of aping the Christian story of Jesus. In fact, as we have seen, the christological parody corresponds to real features of history of the empire, to the character of the imperial cult, and to contemporary expectations of the future of the empire. It is a profound prophetic interpretation of the contemporary religio-political image of the empire, both in Rome’s own propaganda and in its subjects’ profoundest responses to Roman rule. This religio-political ideology, which John sees as a parody of the Christian claims about Christ, was no mere cover for the hard political realities: it entered deeply into the contemporary dynamics of power as they affected the lives of John’s contemporaries. He sees it as a deification of power. The empire’s success is founded on military might and people’s adulation of military might. By these standards Christ and the martyrs are the unsuccessful victims of the empire. Instead of worshipping the risen Christ who has won his victory by suffering witness to the truth, the world worships the beast whose ‘resurrection’ is the proof that this military might is invincible. The parallel between the ‘death’ and ‘resurrection’ of the beast and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ poses the issue of what is truly divine. Is it the beast’s apparent success which is worthy of religious trust and worship? Or is the apparent failure of Christ and the martyrs the true witness to the God who can be ultimately trusted and may alone be worshipped?

The ambiguity of the period of the beast’s reign, in which to earthly appearances the beast’s ‘resurrection’ has established his eternal kingdom, while those who acknowledge God’s rule are slaughtered by the beast, cannot be permanent. God’s kingdom must come. The parallel between the beast’s ‘parousia’ and Christ’s poses the issue of what will turn out ultimately to be divine, whose kingdom will prevail in the end. The cult of military power contains its own contradiction: the city which lived by military conquest will fall by military conquest. But beyond that, military power which aims only at its own absolute supremacy must prove a false messiah. It overreaches itself because it is the merely human grasping for what is truly only divine. It is only the parousia of Christ that can establish an eternal kingdom, because it is truly the coming of the eternal God who alone can be trusted with absolute supremacy.

The riddle of the number of the beast pointed specifically to Nero as the figure whose history and legend displayed, to those who had wisdom, the nature of the Roman Empire’s attempt to rival God. Any contemporary reappropriation of Revelation’s images that aims to expose the dynamics of power in the contemporary world in the light of the Gospel would also have to be specific. [Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 451-52]

Theological Implications

The first thing I want to draw our attention to is Bauckham’s last paragraph. What he is doing with this is delimiting the application of the book of Revelation to a particular set of boundaries. In other words, he is using its original audience and shape as determinative for how we can appropriate and apply it to our own context and situation today (just as in principle we should interpret the so called Minor Prophets or Book of the Twelve). What this does, by implication, is that it disallows the Dispensationalist interpretation of the book of Revelation. It won’t allow for providing the kind of the nitty-gritty detail that Dispensational exegesis of this book is known for. There is a general understanding of end time events revealed in this book (as it pertains to the end of the current world system), and only a more particular understanding of the consummate age or heaven. In other words, to read stuff into Revelation (like identifying the European union as the ten headed beast, or taking the “Mark of the Beast” as a literal mark or bar code embedded on your hand or forehead) will not work; and this is convincingly revealed as the exegete studies the background context and Jewish-Christian apocalyptic tradition from which John wrote and received the revelation of Jesus.

Bauckham’s prior development, to the quote above, has highlighted how the history in the 1st century (second Temple Judaism) supplies all the historical referents for which John’s apocalyptic language finds a referent. In other words, the language of “Beast” was common moniker for the Roman Empire, and its gone wild military power. The ‘Mark of the Beast’ was required in order to buy and sell in the Roman Empire (or allegiance to Nero and the Caesars). So as Bauckham notes, if true, then the application of this (prophetically for the future) is that the power of the Beast (represented by empires who have their strength through military might and power) will not last (which was immediately realized in the Roman context as ultimately the Roman empire collapsed, but this kind of “power” has continued to persist into the present). Also there is an interesting note, historically in regards to the language of the Beast receiving a fatal blow to the head, and then his resurrection (which was also common apocalyptic language directed toward the Roman empire and the Nero legend by other apocalyptic writings during this period like the Ascension of Isaiah etc.); Bauckham identifies how this was something that had already happened in reference to the Beast (in particular Nero legend, whom the number 666 through Gematria [the common usage of Greek letters that have numeric value to identify people or places, in this instance, the Greek letters for Nero add up to 666]); that after Nero committed suicide, it appeared that the Roman empire was doomed, but at the time of 70 AD Titus Vespasian resurrected and coalesced the empire through the sacking of Jerusalem and the military might of the Rome. It appeared that the Beast had died, but within a short period of time he rose again to excessive power. These are just a few examples of how Bauckham reorientates the book of Revelation through providing a thick account of the context in which the book of Revelation was written. The exegete, if genuine, cannot simply over-look what Bauckham has provided if he or she is going to honestly engage the book of Revelation. Which leads to my last implication.

For all too long, personally, folks I have been around who want to continue holding onto their particular interpretive schema of things (especially dispensationalists) will caricature other interpretive approaches to the book of Revelation in particular. There usually is a sketch of the other positions (like historist, idealist, preterist), but then this is only used to relativize the interpretive situation (or confuse); at which point the dispensationalist steps in and offers his clarity of interpreting the book of Revelation through a futurist lens alone. This is not good practice, and it ultimately turns people like me off. True, each one of us has to make our own decisions when it comes to principles of interpretation; but I would like to think that that involves being honest, and taking all the evidence (we are aware of) into account. That we are not so locked into particular denominations and their distinctives that we are afraid to change our minds, and allow our preunderstandings that we bring to the text to change in accordance with the relative weight of the evidence on the ground that we are confronted with through the kind of rigorous study that Paul admonishes us to (cf. II Tim. 2.15). [I am of course not talking about essential things here, I am talking about so called secondary things like this issue entails]

One more implication. If what Bauckham writes is true, then this has paradigmatic consequences for how we view our current situation, especially as Westerners and Americans in particular. We should not conflate being a Christian with being a Patriot, a Republican-Democrat-Independent, or simply with being an American. In fact insofar as America’s strength is rooted in her military might, then she exemplifies the features of the ‘Beast’ and not the City on the Hill that Ronald Reagan attributed to her. What the book of Revelation does is that it places any empire (like, really the emerging Global Empire we inhabit) on notice; that its time is short, and that all of its wanton desires are coming to an end. You can kill the Christians (and the ‘Beast’ has, statistically more so in the 20th century by itself than the previous 19 added together), but it is through the martyrs blood that the Beast only proves his own demise; the blood of the martyrs cries out, and signals that the Lion-Lamb’s kingdom has come and will finally come at the last trumpet. What Bauckham’s insights implies is that the Beast (or Anti-Christ) is not necessarily embodied in a single person; instead Nero and the Roman empire exemplifies or symbolizes the kind of power that is embodied by empires or empire in the world. There will be, according to the unfolding of the judgments in Revelation (the Seal, Trumpet, Bowl) an intensification of the Beast and empire just prior to the return of Christ (where the Danielic ‘Stone’ will crush the kingdoms of this world cf. Daniel 2). In other words, Jesus could come at any moment!

Is the Trinity negotiable for Evangelical Christians and the Gospel?

What is happening to ‘Evangelical’ Christianity? Brian LePort just posted this: Is Rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity a Rejection of the Gospel? Brian is simply continuing a dialogue that Marc Cortez started on his blog, and then others responded to Marc by way of posts at their blogs (you can get all the links at Brian’s blog). What is astounding to me is not anything that Brian has said or asked, but some of the responses that have been provided in the comment meta at Brian’s. Evangelicalism is in a relativist slide, in general. If the sentiment being voiced at Brian’s in the comment meta is at all representative of the kind of ‘Evangelical’ thinking out there; then indeed we have come a long way, and I don’t mean forward.

Anyway, given the occasion, I thought I would re-post a post I wrote quite awhile ago that engages this very question and issue. To be honest, the kind of responses over at Brian’s scares me for Evangelicalism. Here’s the body of my post:

There are certain “Christian” belief systems that assert that the Trinity is a man-made distortion of who God is. They assert that Jesus is either: a creation of God, an exalted Angel, a demiurge, a mode or expression of the one God. They assert much more, and there are many more views of who Jesus is, that are under or beyond whom Jesus really is as disclosed in Scripture. Conversely, it is those who make such assertions about who Jesus is, whom preach a different gospel — since Jesus is the gospel. And if we get who Jesus is, wrong, then we get the Gospel wrong. If Jesus isn’t the second person of the Trinity, then we end up with a gospel that necessarily starts with man. It took God assuming humanity to himself to bridge the gap between sinful man, and a holy God. If Jesus is just a creation, or a mode, then he is unable to bridge this gap … since He “really” cannot represent us before God — this requires a God-Man. Thankfully Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, which makes the Gospel a predicate of the Trinity. The Gospel is necessarily Trinitarian. Vanhoozer says this way more succinctly than I:

In sum, the Gospel is ultimately unintelligible apart from Trinitarian theology. Only the doctrine of the Trinity adequately accounts for how those who are not God come to share in the fellowship of Father and Son through the Spirit. The Trinity is both the Christian specification of God and a summary statement of the Gospel, in that the possibility of life with God depends on the person and work of the Son and Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity thus serves both as an identification of the dramatis personae and as a precis of the drama itself. “He is risen indeed!” (Kevin Vanhoozer, “The Drama of Doctrine,” 43-44)

This illustrates my point above, that in order for man to truly be brought into the presence of a holy God, requires that God bring us into his very life! Which He did, in Christ. Unfortunately, this means that LDS, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals, Unitarians, et al. all preach a different gospel than the one proclaimed by the Apostles in the New Testament. The Gospel is exclusive by definition, to Trinitarians.

How Can you not be an Evangelical Calvinist?

For the life of me! I have no idea how every single person who reads here has not become an Evangelical Calvinist by now. I mean with stuff like this:

God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.” ~T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ”, 94.

How can you click away and pretend like you didn’t just read that? I continue to be amazed at folks who stay on the same old tired path of either trodding down the classic Calvinist or Arminian trail. As if this is the only alternative. The Lord had you find your way over here for a reason; it’s about time that you repent and become an Evangelical Calvinist. Once you do you’ll never look back!

Either For Christ or Against Him

What good does it do to preach if you don’t preach Christ fully? There are so many pastors out there, in the Evangelical church, who have good intentions; but for lack of a better word, they are wousses! They are afraid to offend people with the Gospel, they are afraid to let scripture speak; and the result is that, in many instances, they create people who are “half-baked.” As far as I’m concerned seeker sensitive/church growth models and approaches only make the lair of satan all too happy.

If you’re called to preach/teach, remember, you stand before an “audience of One,” not men (see Gal. 1:1-10). If you preach and live for men, then you disqualify yourself as a minister of the Gospel; and you’ve fallen under a stricter judgement, that is scary. I just don’t think most pastors, and for that matter, Christians, in general, take the reality of scripture seriously. It’s easy to fall into that trap, we read, reread, rereread the same passages over and again; but let’s not forget that what scripture is talking about has life and death urgency tied to it!

Either your for Christ or against Him, there’s no in between!