Reading through John Frame’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. I was reading through his section on Human Responsibility and Freedom. In this section he has a section that critiques libertarianism. He has 15 points which I think are helpful. He begins with R.K. McGregor Wright’s definition of libertarianism (No Place for Sovereignty pp 43-44) : The belief that the human will has an inherent power to choose with equal ease between alternatives. This is commonly called “the power of contrary choice” or the “liberty of indifference.” This belief does not claim that there are no influences that might affect the will, but it does insist that normally the will can overcome these factors and choose in spite of them. Ultimately, the will is free from any necessary causation. In other words, it is autonomous from outside determination.” (more…)
In the discussion of Reformed liturgies and worship there are many men that will enter the discussion. One of those that is of significance that may go overlooked is Johannes Oecolampadius (1482-1531). In another sense, his significance is also that he is arguably regarded as the spiritual father of Calvin and the entire Reformed Church. Among other things, Oecolampadius initiated church discipline, challenged Roman Catholic doctrines using his extensive knowledge of patristics, and reinstated the office of elder.
I think Oecolampadius will be a man to be explored deeply as scholarship grows in the area of the Reformation history. Perhaps one of those benefits will be that some of his works will finally be translated into english. For example, none of his commentaries on Genesis, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Matthew, Romans, Colossians, Hebrews and 1 John are in english.
I have been teaching a class on Reformed worship and the formulations of Presbyterian liturgies. This class will have to have the story of Calvin and Geneva to make sense of how some of these liturgies were made. A source on the life of John Calvin I found helpful and well-written is John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor by Robert Godfrey. Clearly there is more read than can be taught in a single Sunday School class. Thus for this post I wanted to highlight the work ethic of Calvin. It was a work ethic that would serve as an example of how much we can do in a week. (more…)
I received a question from J. I thought I would post the answer here and then others could benefit from my response.
Here’s the question: I was reading Hebrews 4 where is says how Gods work was done and rested on the 7th day. And it encourages us to be diligent to come to that rest.
I have always been confused on the 7th day of “rest” remember it and keep it holy. Could this possibly mean continue to work until we enter the Rest meaning presence with God in heaven? Not saying that it is wrong to rest, but I have always had a hard time thinking that God wants us to rest one day a week and that being holy. Yes church meeting is a necessity but isn’t the presence of God in heave more Holy and more restful.
Am I way off or is this something worth looking more into?
The other day my wife and I were watching a TV series that we have grown to enjoy. I casually thought out loud “I wonder how it will end?” I wondered if they would kill off the main character. Would they have him ride off into the sunset? What about the other characters in the series? For shock value perhaps they would try to kill off some of the more popular characters. I don’t know and honestly I hope that season is a long ways off. It always seems like when I find a series I enjoy, that I discover it about two seasons before it ends. (more…)
The inevitable question arises when we witness a committed and faithful Christian leave the Church. It raises the question “Can people who are saved lose their salvation?” In Reformed theology this answer falls under the letter “P” in the acrostic TULIP. Generally called the Perseverance of the Saints it speaks to the elect and how they can never ultimately fall away. In the subject of the Perseverance of the Saints, God is the active agent and the objects of God’s perseverance are the saints. This needs to be understood rightly because otherwise it might suggest that the persevering is something that we do in and of ourselves. Of course Reformed teaching holds that the elect truly do persevere to the end. But the reason they persevere is because God perseveres or as R.C. Sproul has termed “God has preserved them”. In the teaching of “the Perseverance of the Saints” I usually re-phrase it as “the Perseverance of God” to emphasize the divine agency. To emphasize that God continues to maintain the elect and if he didn’t there could be no Church at all. (more…)
I read a blog article by Jesse Johnson here on the topic of evening services for Sundays. I read the article and was glad to see someone writing about this. R. Scott Clark has written about the evening service in chapter 8 of Recovering the Reformed Confessions. Johnson’s article deals more with answering the question of why churches are abandoning the evening service. And Clark reminds the reader that the Reformers used the second service as a catechism tool and encourages us to consider taking advantage of that as well. I wanted to take a moment to chime in and add my own 15 cents with a slightly different emphasis.
I talk with members of the congregation or friends at other churches and sometimes ask about evening service attendance. Usually the reason I hear for not attending the service has to do with spending time at home, being tired, kids have a schedule for napping, it’s their free time, homework is crazy, work is crazy, that’s when they spend time with friends, extended family or even attend another church in the evening. There are as many reasons as there are people who don’t attend the evening service. I think people are missing a rather obvious reason to attend the evening service. I also think that if people gave this more thought they would find a way to be at the evening service more consistently because they would realize that evening service absences are missed opportunities. (more…)