doctrine

Big new book from Mark Driscoll is coming soon.

Doctrine, What Christians Should Believe

Looks good. here is the table of contents:

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1 – Trinity: God Is

Chapter 2 – Revelation: God Speaks

Chapter 3 – Creation: God Makes

Chapter 4 – Image: God Loves

Chapter 5 – Fall: God Judges

Chapter 6 – Covenant: God Pursues

Chapter 7 – Incarnation: God Comes

Chapter 8 – Cross: God Dies

Chapter 9 – Resurrection: God Saves

Chapter 10 – Church: God Sends

Chapter 11 – Worship: God Transforms

Chapter 12 – Stewardship: God Gives

Chapter 13 – Kingdom: God Reigns

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more on Justification

I have mentioned the topic of the Justification debate between John Piper and N.T. Wright before. I also linked once to John Piper being interviewed on the topic.

Anyone who wants to know the Biblical basis for them to be declared righteous before God should listen to the podcast at the last link above.

Now Kevin DeYoung has weighed in with some comments and questions for N.T. Wright. Excellent theological discussion at a very high level.
He has done so in three parts and in the form of four questions for professor Wright.

part 1 general comments and background
part 2 first two questions
part 3 last two question

take some time and go read all three of these posts. The amazing thing is the subtlety of Wright’s error and the detailed way that DeYoung teases out the truth.

truth in love

Paul reminded the Ephesian church that only with truth would there be mature Christian unity and only if truth was spoken in love.

Truth cannot be ducked or minimized in any way, but it must be softened with compassion. It is not compassionate to downplay or minimize or disregard truth.

Dr. Mohler wrote about this the other day in the context of homosexuality.

first the truth:

The homosexual rights movement understands that the evangelical church is one of the last resistance movements committed to a biblical morality. Because of this, the movement has adopted a strategy of isolating Christian opposition, and forcing change by political action and cultural pressure. Can we count on evangelicals to remain steadfastly biblical on this issue?

Not hardly. Scientific surveys and informal observation reveal that we have experienced a significant loss of conviction among youth and young adults. No moral revolution can succeed without shaping and changing the minds of young people and children. Inevitably, the schools have become crucial battlegrounds for the culture war. The Christian worldview has been undermined by pervasive curricula that teach moral relativism, reduce moral commandments to personal values, and promote homosexuality as a legitimate and attractive lifestyle option.

Our churches must teach the basics of biblical morality to Christians who will otherwise never know that the Bible prescribes a model for sexual relationships. Young people must be told the truth about homosexuality–and taught to esteem marriage as God’s intention for human sexual relatedness.

The times demand Christian courage. These days, courage means that preachers and Christian leaders must set an agenda for biblical confrontation, and not shrink from dealing with the full range of issues related to homosexuality. We must talk about what the Bible teaches about gender–what it means to be a man or a woman. We must talk about God’s gift of sex and the covenant of marriage. And we must talk honestly about what homosexuality is, and why God has condemned this sin as an abomination in His sight.

but with compassion:

And yet, even as courage is required, the times call for another Christian virtue as well–compassion. The tragic fact is that every congregation is almost certain to include persons struggling with homosexual desire or even involved in homosexual acts. Outside the walls of the church, homosexuals are waiting to see if the Christian church has anything more to say, after we declare that homosexuality is a sin.

Liberal churches have redefined compassion to mean that the church changes its message to meet modern demands. They argue that to tell a homosexual he is a sinner is uncompassionate and intolerant. This is like arguing that a physician is intolerant because he tells a patient she has cancer. But, in the culture of political correctness, this argument holds a powerful attraction.

Biblical Christians know that compassion requires telling the truth, and refusing to call sin something sinless. To hide or deny the sinfulness of sin is to lie, and there is no compassion in such a deadly deception. True compassion demands speaking the truth in love–and there is the problem. Far too often, our courage is more evident than our compassion.

Go read the rest. Great stuff.

why doctrine?

via challies, here is John MacArthur talking about the importance of a sound doctrinal foundation prior to learning specific applications of scripture.

Of course, practical application is vital. I don’t want to minimize its importance. But if there is a deficiency in preaching today, it is that there’s too much relational, pseudopsychological, and thinly life-related content, and not enough emphasis on sound doctrine.

The distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is artificial; doctrine is practical! In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine.

Practical insights, gimmicks, and illustrations mean little if they’re not attached to divine principle. There’s no basis for godly behavior apart from the truth of God’s Word. Before the preacher asks anyone to perform a certain duty, he must first deal with doctrine. He must develop his message around theological themes and draw out the principles of the texts. Then the truth can be applied.

complementarianism

Complementarianism. Isn’t that a great word? It represents one of the most hated Biblical doctrines in our modern world. Mark Driscoll was reviled for believing in this doctrine long before he was taken to task for being too vulgar.

Complementarianism is the doctrine that men and women are different and that God has provided for them different and complementary roles to play in the church, the body of Christ. Where this doctrine meets resistance in our culture is in its requirement that only men lead the church in the role of pastor/elder.

You can see why the secular world we live in despises this doctrine. What is much less understandable is why ostensibly Christian people would deny this Biblical doctrine. See, for example, this article by Mary Zeiss Stange.

It is a truth so familiar as to have become cliché: Women are the driving force behind organized religion. They fill the pews, they bring their children into the fold. The Pew data help make sense of these facts. But the same data highlight the cruel irony that in far too many religious contexts in this country, women remain second-class citizens.

Another of the findings of Pew’s 2008 Religious Landscape Survey was that, among people who pray “more than seldom,” a significant proportion across most religious groups say their prayers are regularly answered, at least once a week or once a month. This religious demographic was not broken down by gender.

But it is fair to assume that, given women’s greater likelihood to pray at all, a sizable number of these supplicants are women. It is equally fair to assume that, if religious equality is what they are praying for, many of them are going to have to wait a while longer.

emphasis added.

That last sentence gives her game away. Number 1, she assumes that complementarians don’t have “religious equality.” This is because her definition of equality is completely secular. In other words, she judges “religious equality” by the purely secular metric of “advancement opportunity.” Number 2, she assumes that christian women might be praying for something, her vision of “religious equality”, that is on its face contrary to God’s word and therefore sinful.

Here is Dr. Al Mohler’s response to Professor Stange.

Thus, this article gets right to the heart of the issues at stake. Professor Stange writes from a recognizable point of view. She sees equal access to leadership as integral to genuine equality for women. If any office in the church is limited to men, women are treated as unequals. Following her logic, this pattern can only be explained by prejudice and intractable tradition — thus the stained-glass ceiling as a religious form of the so-called “glass ceiling” that has limited the role of women in other sectors of society.

Professor Stange points her argument toward the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention as examples of denominations that illustrate the “stained-glass ceiling.” She does recognize that both the Roman Catholics and the Southern Baptists base their understanding on theological commitments, but she sees this pattern as rooted in prejudice that should be overcome.
…..
Completely missing from her analysis is any concession that God might actually have ordered this pattern of leadership restriction for our good and His glory. Her perspective on the issue is fundamentally secular in approach. In this view, where men alone can hold positions of authority and responsibility, prejudice must be the cause and access to these positions for women must be the solution.
….
Nevertheless, those who believe that the church is an institution established by Jesus Christ and who believe that the Bible is our sole final authority for belief and practice must obey what the Bible teaches. This means that we must also follow the pattern set out in the Scripture as the pattern set out by God himself.

Men and women are indeed equally created in the image of God, equally in need of the Gospel, and equal in terms of salvation. Both men and women are called to lives of discipleship, service, and witness. Mary Zeiss Stange is surely right when she suggests that churches depend upon the dedicated service and faithfulness of women. But this does not mean that the pattern for the church set forth in the Bible is to be rejected in light of current conceptions of gender equality. Those who believe that the Bible is indeed the inerrant and infallible written revelation of God are obligated to perpetuate and honor the pattern of leadership ordered within the text of Scripture.

truth and doctrine

Kevin DeYoung has a great series of four posts on Truths that Transform, Doctrines that Damn.

Here are his summary conclusions, but go read all four posts.

First off, we see that anyone who says they have a church with no doctrinal center does not have a Christian church.

Second, we see that the early church believed orthodoxy was very important, and it was more than just living the right way, it involved holding certain truths about God, Christ, and salvation.

Third, we see that orthodoxy is not a moving target. There is no indication that Paul wanted his young pastors to repaint the Christian faith for a new generation. On the contrary, there is every indication that he wanted the apostolic deposit of truth to be passed on untouched and uncorrupted.

Fourth, we see that this apostolic message was to be declared boldly and confidently, and anyone who preached a different message or led others away from this core message were to be gently opposed and strongly rebuked (somehow, I guess, we can gently oppose and strongly rebuke at the same time).

Fifth, and more to the point of this series of blog posts, we see what the essentials of the faith looked like. The gospel message that Paul preached and expected all Christian to adhere to looked something like this: God is glorious; we are sinners; and Jesus Christ is our Savior and God. Jesus Christ is the son of David and God in the flesh; he died and rose again; he ascended into heaven; he is coming again. Salvation is by sovereign grace, according to the converting power of the Holy Spirit, through faith, not according to works. Jesus Christ saves us from sin, saves us for eternal life, and saves us unto holiness.

This is the gospel of the early church. It is rooted in Scripture. It is not to be deviated from. And it must be proclaimed confidently by anyone who would lay claim to apostolic authority in his ministry.

one way?

You may have heard a while back about a survey that indicated most American Christians believe that there is more than one way to heaven. The survey’s methodology was questioned and, as a result, it has been redone. The results did not change.

here is seminary president Al Mohler’s take.

And here is seminary student Todd Burus

Dr. Mohler says, in part:

As I told USA Today, this report reveals that a good number of those who attend evangelical churches either misunderstand or repudiate the Gospel. The New Testament reveals not only that Jesus claimed to be the only way to the Father [see John 14:6] but also that the Gospel of Christ is the only message that saves [see Romans 10]. This claim has been central to evangelical conviction — at least until now.

I am confident that much of this confusion can be traced to the superficiality that marks far too many evangelical pulpits. The disappearance of doctrinal understanding and evangelical demonstration can be traced directly to the decline in expository preaching and doctrinal instruction. A loss of evangelistic and missionary commitment can be fully expected as a direct result of this confusion or repudiation of the Gospel.

This new survey should be received with great concern. Will it awaken today’s generation of evangelicals to the catastrophe before our eyes?

Todd Burus says in part:

This begs the question, at what point do we stop calling these people Christians? When we say “Most Christians” and when the society critiques “Most Christians,” it is now clearer than ever that they are not actually talking about Christians in the first place. They’re talking about people who wear the clothes of a Christian, but work for someone else. They’re talking about people who apparently don’t have anything better to do on Sunday morning (oh wait, they probably aren’t going to church, which explains our attendance numbers) and people who feel guilty for calling themselves what they really are, functional universalists (or atheists, since they seem to believe in no god I know of).

Why has this happened? Which came first: the denial of Scriptural authority and the inerrancy of God’s Word, or the abandonment of actual biblical Christianity? When did we become so self-assured that we lost the fear of God?

I don’t think I have anything constructive to say about this right now. Honestly, I’m shocked and appalled and a hair short of just really ticked off. I get so tired of people going around calling themselves Christians and then believing crap like that! If you wonder why Christmas is better called X-Mas and you are more and more likely to be shot trying to buy a Nintendo Wii than you are to hear someone talk about the birth of their savior and actually mean it, try these numbers on for size. This is sad, but unfortunately, it’s only sad because it confirmed what we’ve known all along.

I hope this motivates all of you, as it does me, to be more evangelistic and more adamant about the truth, the biblical truth, than ever before.

what is your reaction?