Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book of Eli Illustration(s) of Different Types of Bible Readers

The movie "The Book of Eli" came on TV not too long ago. I was surprised by some of the ending plot and if you have not seen the movie you probably want quite reading this. SPOILER ALERT In the movie there are three types of people who respond to the Bible. One represents those who use the Bible for personal power and gain. There is a town leader; part mayor and all mob boss. He wants a copy of the Bible to be able to use the words there in to coerce those who are small in intellect to do as he says. There is second type of person who uses the Bible as a part of their personal quest and voyage in life. Eli is a wander; part super hero and part high plains drifter. He reads the Bible every day. He knows his own faults but also knows he is to live by the Bible. This is the type of Bible reader I want to be; minus gun fights, karate moves, and swordsmanship. Lastly there is the fellow in Alcatraz Island who is storing up the knowledge of mankind. He is attempting to build their worlds knowledge by amassing a library that is protected. He studiously copies the Bible by hand, prints it up, and then places it on the shelf among many other religions. For this man, the Bible is just another part of human religious experience, not a defining religious experience.

As I read my Bible I want to be wary of the two errors of seeing the Bible as a tool for my own ends or seeing it as a part human religious experience. I want to be on mission and give my life to the one who gave himself to me. The fellow Eli was a Christ figure in that he was misunderstood and also because he seemed to die and rise again. However, his resurrection is temporary, he eventually die due to his wounds permanently but fulfills his mission. Though he is a Christ figure in a literary sense, there is no mention of the Savior our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no Son of God mentioned in the film that I can remember. Perhaps that is the view point of the film maker, I'm not sure. But as I say I want to be one who reads the Bible like Eli, I also want to be distinct from Eli too. I want to always understand the Bible from the point of view that Jesus is the main idea of all the Bible, even the Old Testament. I want to always be Christ centric in my reading of Scripture.

Lastly it merits saying, Eli is black. Though it saddens me to say, I think African-Americans get the Bible better that white Americans do at times. There is a sense that the African-American church knows that God is good. I'm not sure if it is intentional in the movie, but in a sense, the man reading the Bible correctly is a black man and the other white interpretations are misguided. Again, I'm not sure that is what the film makers meant, but it something I got out of the film. As I read the Bible it is true and straight forward. It is a book about deliverance and grace. It is a book about freedom. I think that is how I hear the African-American sisters and brothers reading it. God is good all the time.

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (Gal 5:1 ESV)

Friday, June 22, 2012

More Theological Convictions of Mine

A repost with expanded topics!

                Reformed Theology (Five Point Calvinist) - God is the author of salvation.  He moves and acts in ways that are a mystery to us.  He saves us without merit on our own.  We cannot save ourselves.  

                Regulative Principle in Family Life, Church Government, Worship, and Ethics - God governs our practices as well as our teachings.  

                Intellectually Engaged - Faith is coherent.  

                Historical-Grammatical method of Hermeneutics - The historical-grammatical method is a Christian hermeneutical method that strives to discover the Biblical author's original intended meaning in the text.
                Spirit Led; Spirit Empowered - All Christians receive the Holy Spirit at regeneration.  He teaches them and enables them for service.  

                No Small People - Regardless of social position, talent, ability and aptitude God has made each person we meet special in some unique way.  

                Cultural Mandate (Neo-Calvinism) - All of life, both things commonly counted as sacred and things counted as secular, are to be approached from a Biblical world view by the Christian.  It is not an evangelism experiment but living life. 

                Great Commission Focused - God has blessed all nations through his chosen one the Messiah.  We are to declare this good news.  

                Multigenerational Blessing of the Covenant - God sanctifies families.  The covenant is to be passed from one generation to the next.  

                Application Oriented, Expository Preaching - We are to preach the Bible and not our own ideas.  Since the Bible puts an emphasis on being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer, the preaching must be clearly focused on application.  

                Church as Elder Led - The pastor is called several things in the NT; overseer, shepherd, and elder.  The elder speaks how the shepherd is one of the flock, not clergy above the flock.  The elder is one of the group.  There is an inherent parity among elders too. 
                Church Trained Elders - While seminaries are a great blessing to the church, ministry is learned in the church.  Churches need to examine who from within their midst is already doing the work of ministry and help them get the further training they need to be the shepherd.  

                Church as Congregation - While the church is a called out people, this does not mean called out from the world, it is called to a congregation, a gathering.  Church models that neglect the gather model are lacking that bit of Scriptural component of a true church.  

                Complimentarian Who Honors Both Genders - Those who hold to a complimentarian view of men and women sometimes appear to dishonor women.  We must go out of our way as complimentarians to honor women.  Ladies first!

                Ethics Based on the 10 Commandments - The 10 Commandments is the bases of the Christian ethics however the logical conclusion to the 10 Commandments are the virtues as seen in Jesus words in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount.  

                Ex Nilo Creation - God created this world by speaking and it was done.  

                Simultaneously Optimistic and Pessimistic regarding Eschatological Issues - God will pour out his Spirit in the last days but at the same time the world will rebel more and more against God.  The pouring out of the Spirit may not have a lot of worldly glamour, it might be the birth of a church in a slum in Brazil.  It might be a young preacher in India preaching on the streets in a megacity.  These simple things will bring glory to God.

             Covenant Theology - God has revealed himself in a progressive revelation of successive and related covenants in the Bible starting with a covenant with Adam and finishing with the New Covenant.  

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Apparent Contradiction of the Reformed View of Ordo Salutis

Two verses that seem to give an order contrary to the ordo salutis:

Acts 16:31

ESV Acts 16:31 And they said, "Believe (aorist imperative) in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved (future indicative), you and your household." (Act 16:31 ESV)

This seems to give the sequence of belief and then salvation. I see that salvation here is not the immediate gift of regeneration but a future state of ultimate salvation. The mystery of God working in our heart is not discussed but the outward sequence as we experience them. The man was asking about the disaster falling on him of a prison break, the salvation was not only the immediate salvation from the state suffering retribution of failure to fulfill his duties but an ultimate eschatological salvation.

ESV Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent (aorist imperative) and be baptized (aorist imperative) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive (future indicative) the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Act 2:38 ESV)

This seems to give the sequence of repentance and baptism first (conversion) and then regeneration. This is again showing the human experience side of things, not the heavenly realities.

Of note is that in both of these passages, there is discussion of the household of faith from one generation to another.

These two verses are more practical in nature, telling folks what they should do in response to the Gospel message. They really do not deny the Ordo Salutis so much as show that in human experience it is complicated.

The Ordo Salutis

From Grudem's Systematic Theology: Page 670

1. Election (God's choice of the people to be saved.)

2. The gospel call (proclaiming the message of the gospel)

3. Regeneration (being born again)

4. Conversion (faith and repentance)

5. Justification (right legal standing)

6. Adoption (membership in God's family)

7. Sanctification (right conduct of life)

8. Perseverance (remaining a Christian)

9. Death (going to be with the Lord)

10. Glorification (receiving a resurrection body)

ESV Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom 8:29 ESV)

The passage shows this sequence:

  • Foreknew
  • Predestined
  • Called
  • Justified
  • Glorified

ESV Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Rom 5:1 ESV)

Faith precedes justification.

ESV Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

(Rom 6:22 ESV)

Justification precedes sanctification.

ESV Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8 ESV)

God's grace precedes the salvation.

ESV Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Tit 3:5 ESV)

Ultimately it is not because we are sanctified that God saves us, but God's mercy. Sanctification does not precede regeneration. Salvation is culminated in glorification.

ESV John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (Joh 6:37 ESV)

Election precedes salvation.

ESV John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (Joh 6:39 ESV)

Conversion precedes glorification.

ESV John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (Joh 6:44 ESV)

Election causes conversion.

ESV John 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. (Joh 10:26 ESV)

God is the reason for perseverance.