Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Certainly I'm not a one issue voter in the sense that abortion is the only issue I pay attention to. I am very concerned about the war in Iraq, war on terror, social justice issue, fiscal responsibility, etc. But I am very concerned with the legal protection, or lack there of, of the unborn, and could not vote for someone who did not share this same concern.
Ann Rice, the popular author disagrees with me and has endorsed Hillary Clinton. Robert George, professor of philosophy at Princeton has written her an open letter questioning her endorsement. Check them out.
Monday, December 24, 2007
We do know he was a righteous man and a devout Jew. We’re not told that he was a priest or affiliated with any particular sect like the Sadducees or the Pharisees. He was just a righteous devout Jew who was eagerly awaiting the consolation, the comfort of Israel. Oh, there is one more very important detail of this story. Simeon was a man full of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit had revealed to him that this relief would come his lifetime. He was told that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, YHWH’s anointed one, the promised Messiah, with his own eyes.
But the Spirit did more for Simeon.
One day, the Spirit led Simeon to the temple. Doesn’t that peak curiosity in you. The Bible gives us little explanation of what that looked like. Was it a whisper in Simeon’s ear? Was it a gut feeling? Was there some special providence involved – did he open up his financial records and see his temple tax was due? I don’t know, but somehow he was led by the Spirit to go to the temple. I do know that this was the most important walk across town Simeon would ever make, for this happened to be the same day that Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple, just over a month old, to be circumcised as the Jewish law required.
As Joseph and Mary brought him into the Temple, Simeon took him in his arms and sang a song:
“29 "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel." ESV
And it says that Jesus’ parents marveled at what was said about him.
This story just leaves me wanting to know so much more. How did Simeon know it was Joseph and Mary? There had to be many parents with kids coming into the Temple that day to present their children to the Lord as the Law prescribed. Was it another whisper in the ear or was it a gut feeling again? And what were Mary and Joseph thinking? Mom’s, what would you be thinking if a strange old man came up and took your baby out of your arms and began to sing a song about him? Were they a little put off, or was there something about Simeon’s face that put them at ease? Could they sense the Spirit upon him? Did he tell them his story, or was it just a mysterious kind old man who spoke prophetically?
There’s such much we don’t know, but there’s a lot we do know. We can sense the hope and joy in Simeon’s song. It’s the kind of hope that was almost tardy but comes at last, and the kind of joy that’s been long deferred, and now has burst upon Simeon with great power.
But actually, do we even know that so well? We know it intellectually, but do you know it experientially. Do we feel the hope and joy bubbling in us as we read these words? Maybe not, because we read these words after the birth of Jesus. And we know the full story, but we don’t know of the darkness of the days before the light of the Messiah shone into the world. In fact, this isn’t all that great a passage for a Christmas Eve service because it, in reality, happened eight days after the birth of Jesus, and tonight is the night before Christmas, the night before the birth of Jesus.
So maybe we should continue using our imaginations and rewind the scene a few days. We know what Simeon’s song was after his eyes had seen the Word in flesh, but I wonder if we can use that to guess at what his prayer might have been on the night before Christ was born?
Maybe his prayer went something like this:
"Lord, please give me more days. Keep me through this, yet another night of waiting and let my eyes wake to see the sun – that bright daily reminder of your faithfulness. And Lord, speaking of your faithfulness, I’m still trusting your promise, not just to me, but to your people Israel. I know I don’t have to remind of your promises, but reminding you reminds me. So Lord, remember the promise you made to Abraham that through him and his descendants all the earth would be blessed. And Lord, don’t forget that promise you made to me, that my own weak eyes would have the privilege of looking at your salvation, the light to the nations and the glory of your people. But Lord, I’m getting old and tired. I don’t mean to doubt, but it’s been so long. I know you’re faithful, and I believe that. But Lord, help my unbelief. It’s hard to keep believing cause I don’t see any signs of peace, just oppression: oppression by foreign powers that just keep rolling through and over you people. And we’re not just oppressed by other nations, we’re oppressed and enslaved by our own sin – that sin that drives a wedge hostility between you and mankind. I don’t see peace, and I don’t see salvation, just more of the same: more ritual, more self righteous law keeping, and of course dying. Lord, the idea that you’re going to do something new has fallen on hard times, and even I, righteous devout Simeon doubt it at times. After all, it has been four hundred years since the last of your prophets spoke. I’ve had the silent treatment before, but four hundred year Lords. Still, I trust and hope. So let me sleep tonight in peace and wake with a renewed faith in You, our Covenant Keeping God, and in your precious promises.”
Maybe it wasn’t like that, but allowing ourselves to appreciate the darkness of the time immediately preceding the birth of Jesus will certainly allow us to relish his birth all the more. We love to see the light of the sun, but even more so after the gloom of rainy weather. Imagine how the first rays of the sun must stir the hearts of those people who live in places like Alaska and endure months without it’s light or warmth.
Let us be careful not to take this light that we’ve grown accustomed to for granted. He is the light that shattered the darkest of darkness, brought terms of peace from a Holy God to his rebellious creation, saved those who couldn’t saved themselves, and shines the light of God’s glory into the darkness of the world so that we may know God and enjoy him forever.
Monday, December 03, 2007
You can listen to it online here!
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Watching him, however, reminded me about this post series. So here's the first reason I hate the prosperity gospel - it makes he hesitant to preach great gospel truths. This week, Bob and I both preached truth's that I could hear Joel preaching.
I preached, in part, about God's delighting in his children, and that God brings great gifts to his children. I hope I ended somewhere on the oppostite pole of where Joel would end. I talked about God's gift of salvation. Joel would talk about God's gift of a nice life. It almost causes me to balk and not preach on truths like this for fear of being lumped in with ear tickling preachers like Joel.
I know Bob had a similar thought. When he told me his sermon title, "Claiming your Rightful Heritage", he asked, "Or does that sound too much like an Osteen message?". I affirmed it was a good title, but also told him that if I heard him say even once that we have royal blood coarsing through our veins, I'd have to throw a hymnal at him. Tonight, Bob said, "you can't fail". You and I knew what he meant. But I can hear Joel saying the same thing, then adding, "go for it. apply for the promotion. sign the mortgage. You can't fail. You are a child of the most high God".
I hate the fact that in the back of my mind, anytime I talk about our heritage or our power or our destinies or God's love for us, I have the immediate impulse to say, "I don't mean...". At the same time, I refuse to allow the prosperity preachers get a corner on the market of great gospel truths. I won't allow them to own and pervert them. I'll keep loving them, meditating on them, being moved by them, and commending them to others.
Friday, November 30, 2007
On your out of the harbor, a little jet ski rams into you and your hundred foot yacht is bumped, pushing the bow of your ship 10 feet south. Not a big deal right? Well, by the time you’ve traveled the 3300 miles across the Atlantic, you are more than 300 miles off course to the south! Instead of landing in England, you’ve now landed in the southern Aquitaine region of France, just south of Bordeaux. It’s beautiful, but I don’t speak French.
What’s the point, other than I’ve been playing with Google Earth a lot? Well, I can put this illustration to good use in so many ways. First, I could say that a small change in trajectory theologically can have huge consequences eternally – like the difference between heaven and hell. Take for instance the little Greek iota in the Nicene Creed. If Jesus is homoiousius, like Arius wanted the church to believe, then he was similar to God, but not quite God. If, I believe, Jesus wasn’t God, he wasn’t a sufficient Savior (God alone saves). Thankfully, the church affirmed that Jesus is homoousius, of the same substance with God, not just similar. Huge difference. And to think people were mocking the anti-Arians for quibbling over just an iota. It’s an iota with eternal consequences.
But what got me thinking about the ship wasn’t a theological point at all, but how we effect culture as Christians. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem like we’re doing much to change our worlds. However, if just a few people take what they’ve learned in a sermon or in a cgroup or in their own personal study and live it out during the week, it might have a bump effect on others. If someone genuinely changes, and becomes slightly more loving, slightly more patient, slightly less self absorbed, then the week of their friends, coworkers and families will be slightly better, and his could have a dramatic over the course of years. And if 100 people change slightly, the bump effect could effect a whole dorm or corporation or school. I may be dreaming, but it is certainly encouraging (the fact that I’m not a pessimistic premillennialist might have something to do with it also).
Well, that’s my thoughts. If you don’t agree with me, keep it to yourself and allow me my little dream!
Tonight, Jacob starts singing a little ditty that I've been singing around the house for some reason. I don't even know where I heard it recently. The only words I know are 'what would you do with a drunken sailor, what would you do with a drunken sailor, what would you do with a drunken sailor early in the morning'. Lynn was appalled that our three year old was singing this. Rightly I think. She launches into a sermonette about drunkenness being bad. Caleb asks how someone gets drunk, a logical question. Lynn tells him people get drunk by drinking too much, to which re responds, 'oh, good. I hardly ever drink'. After laughing ourselves sick, we explained you can't get drunk on milk or lemonade, only beer or other drinks with alcohol. In fine form he reminds me I better be careful not to get drunk on the beer in the fridge.
I love it.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Piper reminds us of something we all know, that this world isn't our home. We are exiles and stangers, sojourners and pilgrims. Consequently, Piper adds, "American culture does not belong to Christians, neither in reality nor in Biblical theology. It never has. The present tailspin toward Sodom is not a fall from Christian ownership."
Too often, however, Christians have embraced this biblical truth and coupled it with an unbiblical hardness to their world. Piper seeks to bring us to balance.
But Christian exiles are not passive. We do not smirk at the misery or the merrymaking of immoral culture. We weep. Or we should. This is my main point: being exiles does not mean being cynical. It does not mean being indifferent or uninvolved. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can’t, it weeps...Being Christian exiles in American culture does not end our influence; it takes the swagger out of it. We don’t get cranky that our country has been taken away. We don’t whine about the triumphs of evil. We are not hardened with anger. We understand. This is not new.
I just read two great pieces on Christians and politics. One is by Francis Beckwith, once president of Evangelical Theological Society but a recent convert to Catholicism. He writes about Mitt Romney and the 'Creedal Mistake' as well as the 'Kennedy Mistake'. About the Creedal Mistake he writes,
This mistake occurs when a Christian citizen believes that the planks of his creed are the best standard by which to judge the suitability of a political candidate. For example, suppose a Presbyterian votes for one of Romney’s primary opponents solely on the basis of the governor’s rejection of the Nicene Creed. An elder who did this would not truly understand the purpose of creeds: to provide church members and the world at large a summary of beliefs that one must embrace in order to be considered an orthodox member of that body. Creeds are not meant to measure the qualifications of a political candidate in a liberal democracy.
He also, and I love this, quotes Martin Luther, "I would rather be ruled by a competent Turk than in incompetent Christian". I think most of us would agree with this.
He goes on in the article to address the 'Kennedy Mistake'. Here, I think he is speaking about something a little more controversial, certainly among secularists, but even among us Christians. What is the Kennedy Mistake? Basically, it is acting as though your faith will have no bearing on your worldview or your political decision making. He writes,
Romney, in order to pacify secularists and traditional Christians, may be tempted to emulate Kennedy and claim that his theology and church do not influence or shape his politics. But this would be a mistake. For it would signal to traditional Christians that Romney does not believe that theology could, in principle, count as knowledge; but this is precisely the view of the secularist who believes that religion, like matters of taste, should remain private. Yet if a citizen has good reason to believe her theological tradition offers real insights into the nature of humanity and the common good—insights that could be defended on grounds that even a secularist cannot easily dismiss—why should she remain mute simply because the secularist stipulates a definition of religion that requires her silence? Why should she accept the secularist’s limitations on her religious liberty based on what appears to many of us as a capricious and politically convenient understanding of “religion”?
Obviously, I am not a Mormon and disagree with most Mormon theology. However, I would much rather see a forthright admission of Romney's Mormon worldview, or of Huckabee's Christian worldview or of Guliani's more secular worldview than political speak any day.
I'll get to the second article later. It's by Piper, so be sure to come back!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
So please understand my hatred is, I believe, congruous with the situation – with the damage caused by the prosperity gospel and the threat posed by the prosperity gospel. Moreover, my hatred for this false gospel is born out my love. What? That’s right, anger and hatred are the flipside of love. If I love kids, I hate child abuse. If I love justice, I hate injustice. If I love the gospel, I’ll hate perversions of it. If I love the church, I’ll hate false teachings that weaken it. If I love people, I’ll hate lies that threaten to rob them of true joy and even to shipwreck their souls. If I love the glory of God in Christ Jesus, I’ll hate anything that diminishes that glory.
So there I’ve just given you my outline for the next few posts. Before I end this one, I do want to make one comment. Anger and hatred aren’t the only emotions I feel regarding this gospel. When I heard that the most prominent health and wealth preacher grabs an audience of 73 million people per week, I cried. Literally. When I heard that that message is being sent via radio, tv and the world wide web to over 100 countries, I sobbed. When I heard that the Senator Grassley of Iowa was calling for an investigation of several televangelists and their use of the tax codes and their personal gain from their ministries, I honestly didn’t know what to feel. When I see that this is the brand of Christianity that is winning the day around the world, I get so discouraged I want to retreat from anything and everything that is weighty and of eternal significance and hide out with video games, comic books, fantasy football and a cold beer. But, I can’t.
I thank God that I have the wonderful opportunity to work with so many great saints who haven’t been duped. They are a source of encouragement and great joy, and they are one source of God’s grace in my life that keeps me from overwhelming depression.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Last week I got together with a few friends to kick around the question, 'how relevant is too relevant'. The spark for the discusion was a quote by Francis Schaeffer, "the world doesn't take the church seriously becuase the church isn't serious". After looking at the A Little Leaven website, I know Schaeffer was right, and that he must be groaning in his grave. If you want to laugh, check out the sections on bad marketing and Jesus junk. If you want to cry, look at the section of Christian erotica and false gospels.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Anyway, it is tempting to steer away from these kind of conversations on hard doctrinal issues, issues that have remained unsettled for centuries. However, tonight, I was encouraged by Piper not to shy away from these conversations. Here's what he writes,
What if someone had said to Athanasius, "Athanasius, people have disagreed on this issue of Christ's deity for three hundred years, and there has never been an official position taken in the church to establish one side as orthodox and the other side as heresy. So who do you think you are? Half the bishops in the world [an understatement] disagree with you, and they read the same Bible you do. So stop fighting this battle and let different views exist side by side."- Contending for Our All, pg. 66-67
We may thank God that Athanasius did not think that way. He did not regard the amount of time that has elapsed or the number of Christians who disagree to determine which doctrines are important and which we should strive to teach and spread and make normative in the church.
And so today we should not conclude that the absence of consensus in the church means doctrinal stalemate or doctrinal insignificance. God may be pleased to give the blessing of unity on some crucial areas of doctrine that are not yet resolved in the Christian church. I think, for example of the issues of manhood and womanhood, the issue of justification by faith, the issue of how the death of Christ saves sinners, and the issue of the sovereignty of God's grace in converting the soul. I don't think we should assume that, because much time has gone by and many people disagree, it must always be this way. Who knows but that, by God's amazing grace, wrong views on these things could become as marginal as the Arianism of the Jehovah's Witness is today. I don't mean that all these issues are as essential as the deity of Christ, but only that a much greater consensus may be reached on the true interpretation of Scripture that is often thought. I think that would be a good thing for the church and the world and the glory of Christ.
So, lets continue engaging in persausive dialogue, humbly and prayerfully. Maybe someday ...
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Profile Summary for Enneagram Type One
Level 1(At Their Best): Become extraordinarily wise and discerning. By accepting what is, they become transcendentally realistic (i don't know what that means, but it sounds awesome), knowing the best action to take in each
moment. Humane, inspiring, and hopeful: the truth will be heard.
Level 2: Conscientious with strong personal convictions: they have an intense sense of right and wrong, personal religious and moral values (uh huh, everything is based on some deep principle). Wish to be rational, reasonable (yeah, this drives Lynn crazy), self-disciplined (uh, not so much), mature, moderate in all things.
Level 3: Extremely principled, always want to be fair, objective, and ethical: truth and justice primary values. Sense of responsibility, personal integrity, and of having a higher purpose often make them teachers and witnesses to the truth (yep!).
Level 4: Dissatisfied with reality (is that why I'm always complaining about the state of evangelicalism?), they become high-minded idealists, feeling that it is up to them to improve everything: crusaders, advocates, critics. Into "causes" and explaining to others how things "ought" to be.
Level 5: Afraid of making a mistake: everything must be consistent with their ideals (My lack of consistencey, even in my theology, drives me nuts. Why can't I just be a Presbyterian). Become orderly and well-organized (no one has ever accused me of that!), but impersonal, puritanical (I hate it when the Puritans are cast in a bad light. Yeah Puritans!), emotionally constricted, rigidly keeping their feelings and impulses in check. Often workaholics—"anal-compulsive," punctual, pedantic, and fastidious (ask Lynn about the tablecloths).
Level 6: Highly critical both of self and others: picky, judgmental, perfectionistic. Very opinionated about everything: correcting people and badgering them to "do the right thing"—as they see it. Impatient, never satisfied with anything unless it is done according to their prescriptions. Moralizing, scolding, abrasive, and indignantly angry (Ok, this would be me on a really really bad day).
Level 7: Can be highly dogmatic, self-righteous, intolerant, and inflexible. Begin dealing in absolutes: they alone know "The Truth." (Not me alone. Me and John Piper, except where I disagree with him, then it is me alone.)Everyone else is wrong: very severe in judgments, while rationalizing own actions.
Level 8: Become obsessive about imperfection and the wrong-doing of others, although they may fall into contradictory actions, hypocritically doing the opposite of what they preach.
Level 9: Become condemnatory toward others, punitive and cruel to rid themselves of "wrong-doers." Severe depressions, nervous breakdowns (I have mine planned for Christmas break. Anyone want to join me?), and suicide attempts are likely. Generally corresponds to the Obsessive-Compulsive and Depressive personality disorders.
Key Motivations: Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone.
Examples: Mahatma Gandhi, Hilary Clinton (oh, crap), Al Gore (double crap), John Paul II, Sandra Day O'Connor, John Bradshaw, Bill Moyers, Martha Stewart (you gotta be freaking kidding me), Ralph Nader, Katherine Hepburn, Harrison Ford, Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Fonda (ok, now I'm angry), Meryl Streep, George Harrison, Celene Dion, Joan Baez, George Bernard Shaw, Noam Chomsky, Michael Dukakis, Margaret Thatcher, Rudolph Guliani, Jerry Brown, Jane Curtin, Gene Siskel, William F. Buckley, Kenneth Starr, The "Church Lady" (Saturday Night Live), and "Mr. Spock" (Star Trek - the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few!).
PS. Number 5 was second and Number 8 was third (very close to each other, but distantly behind Number 1).
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
Here's an interesting article for discussion about Coed Combat from John Piper. Thanks Heather for forwarding it to me.
This is a rarity, but I don't know if I agree with everything Piper says here. I do agree with the conclusion, but not every detail of the argument. (Actually, as much as I like Piper, I do disagree with him more than people might think - like on eschatology, baptism, beer and a few other things).
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Two weeks ago we read the Apostles Creed together. This ancient creed declares that Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell". I had at least one person ask my about my views on this, the phrase "He descended into hell", so I thought a post might help.
Right up front, let me tell you that I do not believe that Jesus literally descended into hell after his death. Nor do I believe the Bible supports this view.
The actual phrase "descended into hell" did not appear in any form of the creed until 390AD, and then only in a copy made by Rufinus (and not the one he preserved as official). Even then, Rufinus, it seems, did not believe that Jesus descended into hell like we use the phrase, but into the grave (the word Hades can mean hell or grave). It did not again appear in a copy of the creed until 650AD.
Historically, most Protestant Christians have rejected the idea that Jesus descended literally into hell (Lutherans believe he did to boast about his defeat of Satan and the ungodly, and more recently dispensationalists have taught that Jesus descended into hell to lead OT saints to freedom). Most have chosen to interpret this dubious phrase in one of two ways. Some follow Rufinus and believe it to mean that he was placed in the grave, emphasizing that he was truly dead. Others follow Calvin and believe that it refers to the period of time when Jesus suffered God's wrath and separation from Him on the cross. This is the view of Calvin, the view expressed in the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Larger Catechism and other reformed doctrinal confessions.
I know some where wondering where I stood on this, and I tend to follow Calvin (surprise, surprise) - believing that it refers to that period when Jesus was suffering not just physically, but suffering spiritual separation from the love of God as he was made sin for us. Hope this helps.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Please know, I engage in interfaith dialogue. I enjoy getting to know others from faiths different faiths. I am a member of a group that involves Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and Christians of every stripe. This interfaith prayer service, however, is not dialogue, but worship. Maybe you don't think prayer is worship. I don't know what else it could possibly be.
Some might object to my position saying that no one would be forcing me to pray to anyone but Jesus. That objection misses the point. The point is Jesus' reputation. Is Jesus a peer of Mohammed or Buddha or Krishna? Participating in an event like this communicates to other participating that I believe Jesus is on par with these other religious leaders. Truth is, I don't. He is superior. He is sui generis, in a league all by himself.
Again, some may say that my actions wouldn't be interpreted that way, but this prayer service was promoted under the presupposition that "we all pray to the same Creator/God". God might have something different to say, indeed he does (see Isaiah ch. 40-50).
Should I be concerned with conclusions others might draw from my participation? Absolutely. That's an ambassadors job. The ambassadors actions are always being interpreted, and reflect on his boss and his nation. We are Christ's ambassadors. We must consider how others will interpret our actions and how it will reflect on Christ.
Let me say one more word about interfaith dialogue. As I said, I do engage in a fair bit of this, but never with an open mind. Wow, I'm sure that takes some by surprise. What I mean is I never go into it willing to be convinced that Jesus isn't the Son of God who took away my sin by being nailed to a cross and rising three days later. I keep an open mind about many, many things, but not foundational things. As C.S. Lewis put it, "The goal of an open mind is to develop a closed mind". Instead, I go into these conversations looking for echoes of truth, longings that are waiting to be filled by a right relationship with God, things in our discussions that will help me point people to the life giving, freeing, saving truth of the gospel.
I hope this post helps clarify my position.
(For more on my thoughts, read A Pleading Letter to a Christian Brother)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The introduction actually begins with a paragraph I could hear myself saying, or Bob saying. Joel reminds his readers that there is an inner voice that says to us, "you were born for better than this". I agree, but I know where Joel is going. He means, you were born for a better job, a better car, a better house or marriage. When I say it, I mean you were born for God (like Augustine meant it).
One of the most painful sentences to read was, "God never performs his greatest feats in your yesterdays". Ah, what about the cross. What about my adoption. I know I'm not finished yet, but the greatest feats have already been accomplished, and guess what, they were accomplished in my past. But again, Joel doesn't have anything of the sort in mind. He means promotions, happiness, dreams coming true, running through fields of wild flowers.
Let me get past this stuff to a much more serious issue - the way Osteen uses Scripture. For example, "The Scripture teaches that we have a valuable treasure on the inside. You have a gift". There is no citation here, but I think he is refering to 2 Corinthians 5:7. It is a great text, but Joel doesn't do it justice. The treasure, according to Paul, is the gospel. According to Joel, its your God given dreams - "Give birth to the dreams and desires that God has placed in your heart".
Here's the worst, and it really shows how Osteen's message undermines the gospel. He discusses the story of Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit and hid because of their nakedness. He writes, "I love the way God answered them. He said, 'Adam, who told you that you were naked?' In other words, 'Who told you that something was wrong with you?' God immediately knew the enemy had been talking to them". On the same page he talks about lies Satan tell us. Um, Joel, there was something wrong with them. They rebelled against the God and King. They plunged humanity and the cosmos into sin and frustration.
The implications are appalling. Joel is, in essence, denying sin. Adam and Eve, you sinned, but there's nothing wrong with you! The truth is, when Satan comes to us and tells us there something wrong with us, he's not lying. There is. We're sinners. He seems to be more Pelagian than Pelagius himself.
One last thing, and maybe you can help me with this. He writes, "Paul responded, ' What if they don't believe? Will their unbelief make the promise of God of no effect in my life?' Paul was sayin, "If other people don't want to believe God for better things in their lives, fine' but that won't keep me from believing. I know the promises of God are in me.'" Where does that come from. No citation, and I can't figure it out.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
As I thumbed through the pages, deciding whether or not to buy the book, I was appalled by Joel's use of Scripture. That's what I want to focus on as I read this book and review it.
My interest in Osteen has been ongoing, mainly because my understanding of the Gospel and his are at opposite poles. I've bashed him publicly before. I almost felt bad about that, until I watched one of his sermons. Then I thought I should do it more often, if only on the sly.
60 minutes did a piece on Osteen this past Sunday night. You can watch the video on the 60 minutes site. It's 12 minutes well spent, if just to hear Michael Horton's critique of Osteen (you can read more of Horton on Osteen on the WTS California site).
Friday, October 05, 2007
Tonight, it was a little reminiscent of the plagues God sent against Egypt. In the 8th inning, the Indians were down 1-0, having squandered many opportunities to score. Then, a swarm of bugs descended upon Jacob's Field, flying in players eyes, noses, mouths, ears, etc. The games was delayed while players, coaches and umpires sprayed down with bug spray. It didn't work, at least not for Joba Chamberlin. The pitcher hit a batter, walked two, and threw two wild pitches - one which allowed Grady Sizemore to tie up the game on a close play at home.
The Indians would go on to win the game in the 11th inning - showing that not only can the outslug the Yankees, they can outpitch them. The plague of flying insects certainly helped, and is just further confirmation that the Yankess are the evil empire and God is on the Indians side!
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I wish this were the worst example of evangelical silliness, but it's a much deeper issue, and more serious issue than stupid church signs.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Needless to say, my boys and I are cautiously optimistic! I just hope we don't have to play those blasted Yankees in the first round.
I would love to talk with the person who wrote the endorsement and ask them not only how this book serves the cause of righteousness, but what they think righteousness is. Apart from God, I can not conceive of righteousness, and every attempt to define righteousness apart from God seems to me to fall flat on its face.
The most common definer of 'right' apart from God is usually a sense of commonly held norms. What a community deems to be right is what defines right. Even on the surface, this is flawed. What about the indigenous tribes of Bolivia that, until recently, buried twins alive because they thought they were evil. It was the norm. It was deemed right (to keep them alive jeopardized the well being of the tribe - it was for the good of the group that this attrocity was justified). On such a reasoning, racism in the south was right, if the majority agreed it was right.
No, there must be some greater definer of right/wrong, good/evil than a communal sense of it. But what is it? Can anyone make any case for any definition of 'righteousness' apart from God?
Monday, September 24, 2007
Ok, so I don't agree with everything is the quote, but I like the 'sticking it to the devil' attitude.
"Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to."
I decided my next book has to be about Luther (I can read him with a Sam Adams in hand)!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This question is not as cut and dry as one might think. The natural impulse is to say, yes, of course. But don't be so quick, or you might not like the corner you paint yourself into!
For example, even those who claim to take the Bible literally must admit that there is metaphor, simile, symbolism, etc. No one I know of takes the picture of a sword coming out of Jesus mouth in Revelation 19 literally – it becomes quite a grotesque picture if you do. Or Psalm 64:7 speaks of God shooting his arrows at his enemies. Again, I don't know anyone who thinks God's got a big compound bow in heaven and is taking aim. So, does anyone really take the Bible literally?
I actually don't like using the word 'literal'. When asked if I take the Bible literally, a negative response will make other Christians nervous. If I say I do, then I many people assume I take all portions of the Bible in this literal, wooden sense. Can I suggest that 'faithfully' is a better word.
By faithfully I mean that we take potions of the Bible literally that were intended to be taken, and present themselves in a literal fashion. In this category, I would include the Old Testament stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, Joshua, David and the like. Also, I would include all the Gospel stories of miracles, including the literally bodily resurrection of Jesus. This sets me apart, and other evangelicals apart from those who interpret these stories as great myths or merely nice religious stories with no factual basis. Much of the Bible is written as a historical record of God's interaction with his creation. These events are presented as literal facts and must be taken by the faithful Bible interpreter literally – in the natural, intended sense of the author.
But, by using the word 'faithful', I am not chained to wooden literal interpretations of passages that were intended to be taken as word pictures. I already mentioned some of those passages above. There are many more. For example, Jesus' statement from John 2 about rebuilding the temple in three days shouldn't be taken literally in the sense that he was going to rebuild the Jerusalem temple in three days. That's exactly why the Jewish leaders didn't get what Jesus was saying – they were reading/hearing him too literally.
Oh yeah, and by using the word 'faithfully' instead of literally, I allow myself the read the Bible as Jesus and the apostles did. They did not read their Old Testament only literally, but also typologically. What do I mean? I mean that they saw in the Old Testament all kinds of patterns and types (symbols) that were fulfilled in the New Testament. For example, the New Testament authors see the exodus from Egypt as a pattern, a type, that was meant to foreshadow the churches exodus from bondage to sin and death. This does not mean that they denied the literal exodus event, but they say it as pointing to something greater.
How do you know what is a 'faithful' interpretation of Scripture? I can offer a few suggestions here. First, look at the larger context of Scripture. How does Scripture interpret itself? I have heard people explain fuller, more spiritual meanings of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where each detail of the story is said to stand for something spiritual. However, Scripture doesn't interpret itself that way. Nowhere is this parable interpreted this way. The same is not true of the exodus event. Scripture does represent our deliverance from sin and slavery as another exodus. So pay attention to how the Bible interprets itself (the Reformers referred to this principle as the 'analogy of faith').
Secondly, though I affirm sola Scriptura, I also want to affirm the benefit of consulting the church, both past and present, in the interpretation of Scripture. By referring to the present church, I don't mean the pastors, though we are a part of it. I mean, instead, the community of faith. There is tremendous benefit of reading, studying, interpreting and applying Scripture in community, not merely in isolation. That doesn't mean we don't spend alone time in the Word, but it does mean we don't only spend alone time in the word. Talk with other about what you're learning. Ask other Christians, "does my understanding of this ring true to you?" We were made for community, it is a gift. Use it.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Yesterday, Heather sent me word that some of the hostages were being released. Amen! Here's a link the the CNN Story.
Read the story closely and you'll see what a victory this is, but maybe not for the church. We should be celebrating the release of captives, but cost is extraordinary. Korea agreed to halt all Christian missions activity in Afghanistan in return for the release of the hostages. This leaves me to wonder if the missionaries were negotiating for themselves, would they have made this deal? I think probably not.
Put yourself in a Korean's shoes, one is trying to be an obedient follower of Christ. How do you respond? What if you feel a call to go to Afghanistan? How do you obey the commands of 1 Peter to respect and obey government officials and stay true to your commitment to follow Christ? I don't have pat answers, but would love to hear from you all?!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
I've never read anything by Goldsworthy before, but he comes highly recommended. I'd like to takle this one before the semester begins, but that seems a little lofty!
I've read lots of books on spirituality, but this one looks to be a unique look at Biblial models of spirituality.
I've been looking forward to getting this for months. It will be a delayed gratification, cause I'm putting it off until I get the other two read, but the first book in this series, which I mentioned in my sermon on Habakkuk, was great - if you're into church history.
Oh yeah, before I read any of these, I'm going to make it a point to read a work of fiction. Maybe the Lord of the Rings, which I've never actually read!
Friday, July 13, 2007
The first statement to make is that Jesus wasn't moving from disobedience towards obedience. He was always innocent and never disobedient. But, as one commentary puts it, "innocence differs from virtue". Innocence is to be zereod out on the merit/demerit scale. Sin is to be on the negative side, but virtue is on the positive side. As Jesus grew and learned, he grew consistenty in virtue, having always been perfect in innocence.
Another helpful thought to consider is that prior to actually going through the suffering he suffered, his obedience to the Father's plan was only hypothetical. He was willing to obey, but by actually acting, he obeyed.
Third, you could think of this as a baseball player learning how to hita curve ball. How do they learn - by actually doing it! How do we learn obedience - by actually obeying - not by disobeying. We learn the consequence of disobedience by disobeying and the value of obedience by disobeying, but the only way we can learn to obey is by obeying. It's important to know that Jesus never learned from his mistakes (sinful ones), but learned by doing righteousness.
Thinking about this since I was asked two weeks ago has reminded me how much good intentions must give way to actions. We are all very willing to obey, but what about when it comes time to act. Are we learning obedience by being obedience, or just bidding our time.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
So I was lying in bed thinking, maybe I'm not cut out for deep theology. Worse, I was thinking, maybe I don't really like deep theology. Then it hit me - this book isn't deep theology, it's technical theology. And it's dry. It's theology without doxology, which is awful. It's like soccer without the goal, football without the touchdown. I affirmed to myself that I do love theology when it is done worshipfully, not dryly. The apostle Paul does this so well. He writes deep and hard theology, and then in the middle of his discourse, he breaks out into doxology:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
"For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?"
"Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
As you can tell, my wife takes a long time getting ready for bed, cause I had still yet another breakthrough waiting for her. I realized that the author is mildly to blame - he writes technically, but doesn't ever express in writing what these great truths are doing to him internally: is he humbled by God's power and sovereignty, is he in awe of his grace, does he fear because of his holy law? I don't know, because he doesn't say. But, truth be told, I bear a lot of the blame in this as well. I haven't been reading devotionally. I haven't been meditating on these truths - just filling my head with them. The three years I was in seminary were three of the best years for me spiritually. Why? Because I was reading things devotionally - which sometimes meant more slowly and frequently meant that I didn't get all the reading done for a particular class - but so be it.
I read this a few weeks ago and I need to remember it as I continue studying deep, technical theology: "Study to be a saint, not a scholar".
One final epiphany, one that came to me as I'm writing, not as I was lying in bed. I wonder how many sermons I've preached that I thought were deep theology, but were just technical. Hmm.
Monday, July 09, 2007
A disciplined will
so to choose what pleases thee.
But more O Lord,
Grant that I might not need it.
Give me a clean heart
with holy desires
and godly passions,
so that my heart beats with yours
and I desire what you desire
want what you want
pursue what you pursue
love what you love.
Let all my hungers, thirsts,
wants and cravings
so that I may indulge
and be a glutton in them
for all eternity.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
I am writing to inform you that I will respectfully decline your invitation to be a part of the Interfaith Prayer Service with the Dalai Lama, for the glory of my utterly unique Savior Jesus. To accept this invitation would compromise the uniqueness of Jesus and communicate to others participating and attending that Jesus is a peer with Allah and Vishnu, when in fact he is sui generis – in a class by himself. Such is the Biblical teaching that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, ESV), and that Jesus is “the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14, ESV).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is to me too precious to risk tarnishing in this manner, and to intentionally or unintentionally communicate that Jesus is not entirely unique is to tarnish his glory and his gospel. To unite with others as though we worshipped and prayed to the same God is an offense to this gospel and to the God who offers his “one and only Son” for the forgiveness of sins and for life. Moreover, I believe participation in this event would confuse those seeking after God by communicating that any of the religions participating are equally valid paths to salvation and God. Again, the offer of the Gospel is life in Christ, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12).
In addition to declining, I am pleading with you as a proclaimed follower of Jesus Christ to reconsider your involvement in this Interfaith Prayer Service. I understand the desire to peacefully coexist with people of other religious persuasions. However, to cooperate in such a way compromises the Gospel and the Glory of Jesus Christ. To participate in such a service is always an act of syncretism, and a violation of the first commandment. Such was the opinion and ruling of the Council of Laodicea in 364AD. The ecumenical council condemned this practice, saying, “No one shall join in prayer with heretics or schismatics” (Canon 33).
I do hope this letter is received as a kind word from someone who desires to be a brother, but who also desires to preserve the beautiful uniqueness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Daniel L. Waugh Jr.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Monday, July 02, 2007
The new website for The Gospel Coalition just went live a few days ago. Some of the 'Stakeholders' of this new coalition are among my favorite authors, professors, pastors out there, including: DA Carson (my academic adviser at Trinity), Colin Smith (the senior pastor at the first church I ever worked at), John Piper (a mentor, even though I've never met him), Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever, Philip Ryken, Ligon Duncan, Erwin Lutzer, Bryan Chapell, CJ Mahaney, and more. Check out the articles and the media sections for great stuff.
Monday, June 25, 2007
First, let me say that I don't like the phrase 'moral law' very much since it seems to imply that the civil and ceremonial aspects of the law were amoral or even immoral. I don't believe that to be the case at all; however, the term 'moral law' is a common expression and I can't think of another better one to describe those aspects of the law that were meant to govern life beyond the cultus and beyond the civil legal system. In essence, the Ten Commandments serves as a summary of the moral law.
Let me make a short case for the passing away of the civil and ceremonial, as well as the enduring nature of the moral (Even New Covenant theologians who argue for the unity of the law argue to show that thw whole of the law has passed, not that the whole of the law is still in effect). I know of no one who would assert that the ceremonial law continues to be in effect today. Jesus himself declares food laws to be no longer binding, and seems to do the same for the ritual washings (Mk 7). Hebrews seems to make it abundantly clear that the sacrifices and priesthood have passes away as the shadows have given way to the reality.
Moreover, the civil law was given as Israel was being constituted as a nation. God's people were, essentially, of one ethnicity and were being formed into a nation. When, however, you get to the New Testament, what as hinted at in the Old comes to pass - the doors are opened wide and people from every nation enter the church. The church, including Jew and Gentile is a multi-ethnic, global reality. As such, the laws that governed the Jewish nation no longer govern the church. This can be seen, for instance, in how Paul commands the church to deal with the sexually immoral person. In the Old Testament, such an offender of the moral law would be punished severely by the civil authorities. Indeed the death penalty was usually required. However, Paul does not command the church to execute such an offender, but to put them outside the church, cutting them off from the people of God.
So hopefully that begins to explain how the moral law (remember, I'm still not comfortable with that label, but for ease sake I'll continue to use it) differs from the civil and ceremonial and why I believe the ceremonial and the civil have passed away. Obviously more can and maybe should be said, including further examples to prove the point, but I want to move on and make a case for the continued binding relevancy of the moral law on believers today in my next post and then get back to contemplating the benefits of the moral law for believers.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
It was awesome this year to see him have a better, growing experience. He stuck with it after a dissapointed and frustrating year last year, and made a ton of progress this year. I love watching my boys grow. Obviously he grew physically - check out the high waters on #2. More importantly, he's growing strong in character.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
That gives us some insight into one function of the law, specifically the Ten Commandments, in the life of the believer. We are called to love, but the Bible doesn't leave it to us to determine all that this love entails. The moral law explicates the law of love. The moral law makes it clear that one cannot honestly claim to love God while worshipping idols, or to love ones neighbor while stealing from him. The New Testament gets us behind the externals of the law and makes it clear that we cannot claim to love our neighbor even if we do 'loving things' while harboring hatred in our hearts (though the Old Testament also spoke to the internals as well - see the 10th commandment for a good example).
So, to love God we must obey the commandments; however, we must not assume that obeying the commandments is the sum total of what it means to love God, or our neighbor. Love for God and Love for Neighbor must be lived out, but it would be a tragic mistake to think that living out love by doing loving things is enough. Love must flow from a heart that is warm towards God and Neighbor. The balance between legalism (focusing on doing the loving things without the affections) and a fuzzy love (feeling the affections but not living it out by doing loving deeds) is always a delicate one, but an absolutely essential one for the believer to maintain.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Why have I been following it so closely (I literally watched hours of debate today)? As a denomination they appoointed a committee to study are make recommendations about two 'new' theological systems that have emerged or are emerging. The New Perspectives on Paul has been articulated most compellingly and widely by NT Wright -the Bishop of Durham. I've only begun to look into NPP in the last few months and am currently reading two books, and quite a few journal articles on the NPP.
The other issue the PCA committee studied was what is being called Federal Vision Theology. All I know about FV I learned from the commissions report. You can read the entire report, complete with analysis and recommendations.
It seems both of these new movements threatens the heart of the gospel, and I am glad the PCA has taken it's stand against them (they are acutally kind of late on this bandwagon, but better late than never).
Oh, and if you can wait till November, John Piper has a book being released in response to NT Wright's views on justification. The title: The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I read this tonight in an article. I love it. It's so hopeful and makes me think I need to read more Luther.
"This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness; not health but healing; not being but becoming; not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified."
- Martin Luther
That brings us to another discussion particularly about the Mosaic Law. Theologians, both Dispensationalists and Covenant theologians, have long divided the Mosaic Law into three parts - the civil, the ceremonial and the moral. Calvin and Luther agreed on this, and both agreed that the civil and ceremonial have passed (the civil because it dealt exclusively with the theocracy of Israel and the ceremonial because Christ fulfilled all the 'types' it contained). However, Calvin and Luther disagreed about the role of the moral law in the Christians life. Calvin believed the Christian was still bound to obey the moral law as revealed in the Ten Commandments. Luther, on the other hand, thought the Christian was set free from any obligation to the moral law and that Christian/New Testament ethics was all about the Spirit (though I do not believe he really was, it's obvious why Luther could so easily be charged as being antinomian).
Recently, a group calling themselves "New Covenant Theologians" have pushed against this and asserted that there is no simple neat division of the law that came be made. The Mosaic Law, according the the NCT, is an indivisible whole that has passed away in it's entirety. Admittedly, I do not know much about NCT and have found it difficult to get good scholarly info (try a search on CBD and see what you can find!).
Another group that has risen in Reformed circles is the Theonomists (also called Christian Reconstructionism). They agree with Calvin and Luther that the ceremonial law has passed away because it was meant, in all its symbolism, to point to Christ. They agree with Calvin, not Luther, in that they affirm the normative role of the moral law for believer. Furthermore, they disagree with Calvin and Luther on the role of the civil law. They believe that the civil law as recorded in the Sinaitic Covenant should be the standard by with laws of nations should be judged and to which they should conform. As a natural conclusion, many Theonomists are postmillennial in their eschatology, believing that the church will, by influence (not coercion) Christianize the world and it's systems through evangelism and the that Kingdom will precede the return of Christ. Greg Bahnsen has been the most significant theonomist within the Reformed circle (for a collection of his articles, check here. This one on Theonomy looks interesting, but I haven't read any of it yet), and his influence has only been rivaled by R.J.Rushdoony (who's unique views put him outside the Reformed community).
That's my overview, I'll try to add some comment and evaluation later tonight.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Animated Greek Lessons, by Ted Hildebrandt (Gordon prof)
Monday, June 04, 2007
So, when asking if the law applies to New Covenant Believers, we must be careful that we know what sense of the law we are referring to. Certainly we would all want to agree that much of the Pentateuch applies to us. So we aren't dead to the law in that sense. Moreover, I don't think anyone would want to argue that we are under the law in the sense of the Judaizers law-keeping which leads to justification (that was never the intention of the law when given at Mt. Sinai, how could it be now?).
Ok, that aside, let me state my position: I do believe that we, as Christians, are obligated to keep the law. Now that needs a lot of clarification, so stick with me (not just in this post, but over the next few).
I think it is important to realize that there is an element of law in each of the biblical covenants. Law was not introduced in the Mosaic era, though law certainly does play a much more prominent role in the Mosaic covenant. Actually, I don't even know if saying like that is as accurate as I would like to be. Let me try again: the external codification of law plays a much more prominent role in the Mosaic covenant than in the other Bible covenants (that's better, but still needs work).
You can certainly find law in the pre-fall covenant God imposed upon Adam (sometimes referred to as the "covenant of works" or the "covenant of creation". In Genesis 1&2 you see that man was given responsibilities unique to his status as an image bearer. He was to exercise dominion over creation, and he was to multiply and fill the earth. In addition, he was given the specific command - not to eat from the tree in the center of the Garden.
The Noahic Covenant contains commands as well. The covenant relationship begins with the command to build the ark. Again, at the inauguration of the covenant in Gen 9, Noah receives the command to "be fruitful and multiply", the prohibition against eating food with its blood still in it, as well as the decree of God's will regarding murderers (v.5-6).
In the Abrahamic Covenant, law is important as well. At the outset of the covenant relationship, Abraham is required to leave his land and family and set out the place God would show him. In addition, as the covenant with Abraham is more fully established, the seal of the covenant, circumcision, becomes a mandatory rite for those who would enjoy the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. Stern warnings were issued against neglecting this sign/seal, and severe penalties were to be actuated against those how spurned this covenant rite (see a rather startling instance of this in the life of Moses recorded in Exodus 4).
In the Davidic Covenant, again law is important (though I'll say it again, not as prominent as in the Mosaic covenant). God speaks of discipline and correction for law breaking as he makes this Covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:14). Certainly that only makes sense in terms of law and law breaking. Moreover, the role of the Mosaic Covenant and its laws is clearly articulated in Davids words to Solomon in 1 Kings 2:1-4. Further, the history of Israel is a often sad reminder that law breaking has dire consequences to the people of God.
That brings us, finally, to the New Covenant. Again, I believe the law plays a important role in the New Covenant (I'll deal more specifically with some of Paul's comments regarding the law at a later date). It is extremely important to note that it is not freedom from the law that the OT prophets look for, but instead freedom to keep the law. In Jeremiah 31, God promises that when he establishes his new covenant with his people he will "put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts." (31:33, ESV). Moreover, that Jesus makes demands of his followers can hardly be denied (I like the title of Piper's newest book, "What Jesus Demands of the World").
For now, I hope I've established that the principle of law transcends the Mosaic Covenant. We'll have to give more detailed consideration as to how the law as administered under the Mosaic Covenant applies to us today in a subsequent post.
I am currently doing a lot of reading on the Mosaic Covenant and the Law. As a part of this reading, I am being forced to think again how the Law, specifically the Ten Commandments, relates to Christians under the New Covenant. Over the next few weeks, I am hoping to post regularly on this topic. I am hoping, in part, that writing out my thought will bring greater clarity to me personally.
However, I am also hoping that this will begin others thinking about God's law and our relationship to it. In a post from mid March ("Where is the Fear of The Lord?", March 14th), I bemoaned the fact that the "fear of the Lord" is no longer a distinguishing mark of the evangelical church. Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that we have largely ignored the role of the law among the people of God. I hope to push against this, at least in the small corner of American evangelicalism that I have any degree of influence on. So, stay tuned for thoughts about the Law and the Christian, and please, your comments will help me as I process!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
One of the things that has been brought to light and I have found so profound is that in the midst of the curse, there is hope and promise. Genesis 3:15 sounds like an awful verse on the surface, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel"(ESV). God begins a war here - he places hatred and hostility between the woman and the serpent (and Satan whom it served as a tool). Yet, this is actually a great blessing. God wouldn't let Eve, or any of his chosen people, be friendly with Satan. In the words of Ligon Duncan, "for God to put enmity between Satan and the woman is to drive a wedge between the woman and the enemy of her soul".
This passage has long been called by theologians the protoevangelium - the first (proto) good news (evangelium, from which we get the word evangelism - the proclamation of the good news). I've known this and seen it in this text, even preached it from this text before, but this week it has taken on new hues of meaning (the gem has been turned!).
Look at the verse again. There are three levels of enmity. First, it is between Satan and Eve personally, individually. Second, it is between Eve's seed (plural) and Satan's seed (plural). Third, this hostility between progeny will culminate in one specific Seed of Eve who will crush the head of Satan, being wounded in the process (Christ). "He (singular) will crush your head (singular) and you (singular again) will strike his heel (singular)." Here is announced the defeat of Satan, and this is good news!
But look at that second level of enmity - the enmity God puts between the seed of Eve and Satan's seed. Let me ask you, do all of Eve's physical descendants have this enmity towards Satan. The answer is: no. Why? Because not all of Eve's children are her seed. There is something going on here that transcends typical physical categories, but one that lays the groundwork for a thoroughly biblical doctrine - the doctrine of election.
What I'm saying is that the principle of God choosing some and not others to be his is already here in the earliest chapters of the Bible. Look at the first two children of Eve, Cain and Abel. Was Cain a physical child of Eve? Yes. Was he an heir to the promise of Genesis 3:15? No. God didn't put enmity between Cain and Satan; in fact, we are told in 1 John that Cain was a "of the evil one" (1 John 3:12), so he became a murderer. Cain was a physical descendant of Eve, but not the seed of Eve, just as Ishmael was the descendant of Abraham but not an heir, just as Esau was the descendant of Isaac but not an heir to the promises, just as there were some of Israel who were not true Jews, etc. In other words, all of Eve's seed are those in whom God puts enmity towards Satan. Satan's seed are those whom God did not put this enmity in. What reason stands behind God's choice to place this enmity in one and not another? Let me borrow a phrase used in Romans in answer to the question as to why God chose Jacob and not Esau to answer this question of why God puts enmity towards Satan in some and not others - "in order that God's purpose of election might continue" (Romans 9:11, ESV)
We can expand this and ask, "why do people reject Christ?" Listen to Jesus response to the unbelief of the Pharisees:
They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father - even God." 42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." (John 8:39-47, ESV).
Based on Jesus's words, they do not receivee him or his word because they are of their father the devil (his seed). That enmity is there, but it is not directed towards Satan - they are in league with him because he is their father. Their enmity, hatred, is directed towards Christ, the Seed of Eve. Moreover, you see the principle of a "spiritual seed" emerging again here. The Pharisees were claiming that Abraham was their father, and they are right in the physical sense. However, Jesus says that if they were truly (spiritually) the children of Abraham, they would be doing what he did (having faith). Again, if they were children of God, they would accept him because he is also of God.
They do not accept Jesus because God did not put enmity towards Satan in their heart - they are not the seed of Eve (or of Abraham, or of God). They are, instead, the seed of Satan and are hostile to God and Christ, the Seed of Eve! God would not allow his people, the seed of Eve, to fall into friendship with Satan - the great enemy of God and of their souls. Instead, he places a hostility within his people towards Satan and all his work. How great a blessing is that!
How great is God's grace and purposes. At just the time man needed grace, at just the time man needed God to deliver, God provides! Celebrate his grace, his amazing, electing grace.