The Rejection of Errors (2): The Antithesis and Eschatology

In the first post in this series I connected the Rejection of Errors adopted at the Synod of Dort (1619) with the Reformed doctrine of “antithesis” between belief and unbelief. To put that doctrine in some context I offered a brief overview . . . Continue reading →

Hyping the Great Commission

In 1995 Bill Bright published a volume on “the coming revival.” It summarized what he had been saying for years. If we would only fast and pray and follow the right methods, a revival would come. In other instances, however, he periodically . . . Continue reading →

Calvin on "The Real Prosperity Gospel"

Christianity Today is running a series entitled, “Re-Formed” featuring essays by “John Calvin with Knox Bucer-Beza”—identified by CT as “the author of the Institutes of the Christian Religion and commentaries on most books of the Bible, both of which were sources of . . . Continue reading →

St Bartholomew's Day Massacre

Thanks to Gil Garcia for reminding us that the week of August 23 is the anniversary of the 1572 St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. One of the great paradoxes of the history of Reformed theology is that “Calvinism” is often pictured as marching . . . Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (8): A Rock Of Offense And A Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7–8)

What Martin Luther (1483–1546) expressed as a distinction between the distinction between a theology of glory (theologia gloriae) and the theology of the cross) the Reformed tended to express as a distinction between the Creator and the creature but same set ideas . . . Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (12a): Servants Imitating The Suffering Savior (1 Peter 2:18–25)

There is a thread running through the book of Isaiah, which some have called the Gospel of Isaiah. It is that of the servant. The prophet himself is described as the servant (עבד) of Yahweh (Isa 20:3). David is also Yahweh’s servant . . . Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (20a): Be Not Surprised By Fiery Trials (1 Peter 4:12–19)

Peter was a theologian of the cross, a theologian of suffering, not a theologian of glory. He would never understand those theological systems that anticipate an earthly glory age (e.g., Dominionism, Reconstructionism, Prosperity theology), whether a literal 1000 years (chiliasm) or a figurative millennial glory brought on by gospel preaching (modern post-millennialism). According to some of the Christian Reconstructionists/Dominion theologies, suffering for Christ is only until we gain political power. They tend to treat passages such as these in a quasi-Dispensational fashion, as if turning the other cheek is “for then” but not “for now.” By contrast, For Peter, suffering is the natural state of the Christian in the last days, i.e., that period of redemptive history inaugurated by the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. This approach is also quite opposite that of modern “prosperity” preachers. Theirs is a false gospel, i.e., to say no gospel at all. The gospel is not that God will financially prosper those who do whatever the prosperity preachers tell them to do. The gospel is that Jesus is our representative, that he obeyed the law in our place, that he was crucified in our place, that he was raised for our justification, and that he ascended and is reigning now. We receive the benefits of his work for us by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide). In his mysterious providence, God sometimes materially prospers his people (e.g., Abraham) and sometimes he makes them sit on an ash heap while they scrape their wounds (see Job). There is no magic prayer and no donation to a prosperity preacher has anything to do with Christian faith, piety, or practice. To confess that sinful human beings can control God is nothing but paganism. Continue reading →

Of Calvin, Social Justice, And The Theology Of The Cross

Yesterday (August 13) was the 477th anniversary of a small but symbolic event in Reformation history. On that date in 1541 John Calvin returned to Geneva from Strasbourg, where he had been a happy exile for about three years. On his first . . . Continue reading →

What’s Wrong With A Theology Of Glory?

At the 1518 Heidelberg Disputation (academic presentation), Martin Luther (1483–1546), the father of the Protestant Reformation, as he was coming to his Protestant convictions, argued: “One is not worthy to be called a theologian who looks upon the ‘invisible things of God’ . . . Continue reading →

Silent Saturday

During this season, which many Christians call “Holy Week,” I am perversely drawn to Saturday.