Recently I have been reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. The book is a strong attack on religion in general and Christianity in particular. One thing that I found intriguing was that much of his criticism stems from some of the dumb things that Christians have done. I was reminded of the importance of the Christian life in this connection. Peter reminds us that it is … ‘the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people’ (1 Peter 1:15). Doing good. Yes our actions our never enough if they aren’t combined with the words of the gospel – but our words may never be heard if our actions don’t commend the gospel.
Monday, 30 July 2007
Over the past few days I’ve been helping a friend as he writes an essay on how evangelicals should respond to non-violent models of the atonement. One of the big issues identified was, of course, the way in which the Father/Son relationship is articulated in presentations of Jesus dying on the Cross. And I have to say that as I have read some of the ways in which the Cross is explained I sympathise with those who oppose a penal model (even though I strongly disagree with their proposals) – stories of trains crossing bridges at the expense of the station-keeper’s child, or parents strapping their children into electric chairs to free an unrelated criminal, or judges sending themselves to jail seem to naturally lead to the critiques levelled against penal substitutionary atonement. Of course a thoughtful and orthodox theology of the Trinity will help in addressing some of these issues (Barth’s The Way of the Son of God into the Far Country (CD IV/1) is a great place to start, but many of the myriad of ‘trinitarian’ books being published of late will do the trick). But Mark Thompson’s words remind us that it is only recourse to the Scriptures as a whole that will ultimately protect and promote the glorious news of the Cross.
'Despite its faddishness at the moment, trinitarian doctrine is not the great panacea which will solve every theological problem. It certainly will not give us the answer to every criticism made against the orthodox Christian understanding of the death of Christ in our place and for our sin. Too often our theological reflection is built upon a very narrow base. A much broader base is needed, and I am convinced that that base is provided by the teaching of all the Scriptures. We must beware the reductionism that collapses all theological questions into one particular doctrine, particularly when the doctrine, in the way in which is it often the subject of scholarly investigation, is not the focus of attention throughout the Scriptures. A more robust biblical theology, borne of the conviction that what we have in the Scriptures is the word of God to us, is what is needed in the churches and in the theological academy.'
Mark Thompson, ‘From the Trinity to the Cross’
Reformed Theological Review 63:1 (2004), 28.
By the way, anyone who preaches or explains the death of Christ would do well to read pages 329-336 in Jeffery, Ovey and Sach’s Pierced for our Transgressions.
Saturday, 28 July 2007
“The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God. We need to know God better. When it comes to knowing God, we are a culture of the spiritually stunted. So much of our religion is packaged to address our felt needs – and those are almost uniformly anchored in our pursuit of our own happiness and fulfilment. God simply becomes the Great Being, who potentially at least, meets our needs and fulfils our aspirations. We think rather little of what he is like, what he expects of us, what he seeks in us. We are not captured by his holiness and his love; his thoughts and words capture too little of our imagination, too little of our [conversation], too few of our priorities. In the Biblical view of things, a deeper knowledge of God brings with it massive improvement in the other areas mentioned: purity, integrity, evangelistic effectiveness, better study of Scripture, improved private and corporate worship, and much more. But if we seek these things without passionately desiring a deeper knowledge of God, we are selfishly running after God’s blessings without running after him. We are even worse than the man who wants his wife’s services – someone to come home to, someone to cook and clean, someone to sleep with – without ever making the effort really to know and love his wife and discover what she wants and needs; we are worse than such a man, I say, because God is more than any wife, more than the best of wives: he is perfect in his love, he has made us for himself, we are answerable to him.”
DA Carson - A Call to Spiritual Reformation
DA Carson - A Call to Spiritual Reformation
Being indecisive (especially Dave) we took a long time to come up with a name for our blog. A close second was ‘Carsonogenics’ which we thought was a quirky take on the fact that we have both appreciated the writings of Don Carson so much and to this end we hope to have a semi-regular quote or two from ‘the Don’. In the end though we went for the short phrase ‘But now’ which appears a number of times in the NT but especially in Romans 3:21 – where the terrible condition of humankind under God’s wrath is met by the work of God in Christ. More than anything we hope this blog will help people understand and appreciate the significance of this amazing work of God more.
The term also picks up on the fact that it is important to us as Reformed evangelicals that we are constantly reforming – and so it reminds us that there will always be a ‘but now’ with our thinking, our theology and our lives. Finally, it picks up on the dynamic nature of our blog as we will move from Scripture to Theology to Pulpit to Pew to the Other things in our lives which are important (and sometimes not so important…but still very funny…and we promise not to qualify everything this much, well except when…).
Dave and Pete
Dave and Pete