January 20, 2012
Today I would like to share my thoughts on the tensions that threaten the PCA.
Christ put two kinds of men in the PCA, men who are more confessionally oriented (MCO) and men who are less confessionally oriented (LCO). This is His will. Over many decades I have come to believe that He did so wisely. We need each other. Once we recognize this we will stop fighting each other, stop trying to persuade others to be like us, and we will be able to let each kind of man do what Christ has given him to do. LCO men don’t want the PCA to slip into apostasy, yet they don’t want to expend a lot of energy on defending orthodoxy. Great, don’t! You have MCO men who are glad to do it. We need such men. But we also need men who emphasize other things. Do LCO men warn us against intellectual pride? Well, I am glad for those warnings because I needed them (and still need them). Will orthodoxy alone build the Kingdom? No.
Frankly, I’m not a man who knows how to get things done, so I have come to admire and respect those who do. I need them even if they are LCO than I am.
The danger is that both kinds of men, LCO and MCO see the other as manifesting dangerous weakness. I don’t doubt that, because of indwelling sin, there is some truth in the concerns of each group about the other. But at a more fundamental level each group represents a strength that the other needs. Christ has apportioned his gifts in this way so that alone we are weak, but united in submission to him, his strength is manifested in us. If all PCA men could learn to appreciate the gifts they do not have and let those with such gifts operate without condemnation, the tensions among us would be vastly reduced.
What about apostasy? First let me say that not every departure from the Confession automatically leads to apostasy. It may unlock the door, but then we need brothers who will make sure that door isn’t opened. But if we cherish one another’s gifts, and emphases, then when someone comes along who tries to open the door dangerously, like a Peter Enns, the MCO men can cry out an alarm. Because they have cherished their LCO men, those brothers will be much more likely to listen and support efforts to remove really dangerous men from our midst. But MCO brothers cannot be like the boy who cried wolf. We cannot get up in arms over every departure.
Let MCO brothers not provoke their LCO brothers to wrath, and likewise, let LCO men cherish their MCO brothers, be grateful for their vigilance and not deride them for it. Let them do what they are gifted to do by our Lord.
Sometimes the system may fail and a man may be in a pulpit who doesn’t belong there. That’s not good, but it’s not fatal either, even in St. Louis! They key is to keep such men from spreading. If you cannot eliminate something, contain it. We are much more able to do that united than sniping at each other.
If you are still reading, thanks for your patience and forgive my inability to be more concise. (This is actually much condensed from the first couple of versions – lol) Do you think this is correct? I participate in such blogs so that my rusty iron can be sharpened by others, so sharpen away dear brothers!
September 12, 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Thank you so much for your patronage of this sale. It has been incredible to see the Lord open Heaven’s doors and pour out a blessing we could barely take in.
I want to especially thank Justin Taylor for his wonderful kindness in posting a notice of the sale. Simply amazing!
You will see that there are no further books listed. A group has come forward who have offered to buy my entire library (almost 7,000 volumes) for the start up of a seminary in Haiti. The Haitian who will head up this work studied here in Greenville, SC and is a fine man. It is a joy to know that my collection will profit a country that is so desperately in need of God’s grace.
I am starting up an e-book publishing company. I will be taking older Reformed literature from the 17th-19th century, turning it into accessible modern English so that pastors and lay people can enjoy these God-honoring, soul edifying treasures from the past. We plan to have a web-site up by the end of the year. You will be able to find us under the name “New Puritan Press.” If you’d like to be on an email list to get notices of titles as they come out send your email to us at email@example.com. We’ll be keeping in touch for those of you who have written and offered to pray.
Thanks again for all your help. God’s provision and your encouraging words, prayers and notes of support have ministered mightily to us. Jim and Pam O’Brien
March 11, 2011
A friend posted an article on Paedocommunion on Facebook today by Pastor Patrick Ramsey that I thought was very good. As I thought about this issue again, it occurred to me that I had not put my thoughts down on paper. In sharing them with you I hope to accomplish two things: (1) to be useful to my brothers and sisters and (2) to test my views in the crucible of the internet.
At issue is not simply covenantal membership, but what one thinks is the benefit of the Supper. How is the Supper a means of grace? For an infant to benefit from the Supper, there would have to be a kind of grace conveyed via the elements apart from a conscious act of faith. This is, as far as I can see, the medieval belief that grace (divine transformative power) is infused into a person simply because the sacrament works. In the medieval conception, so long as the recipient was not opposed to receiving grace, the sacrament would work. Since infants cannot oppose the grace it would ‘work.’ In the Protestant conception, however, the sacrament is seen as stimulating our conscious faith. There is no transformative power in the elements. Rather the elements stir up the faith that is in us, so that it becomes more active. The bread directs our thoughts to Christ’s broken body; the wine to his shed blood. Their very physicality adds a dimension that is missing in hearing. As we eat the elements, we have a sense that we are receiving Christ, that He is ours and we are his. Thus, faith is nurtured and strengthened. As the Word helps us to look upon Christ and so love and trust him, so do the sacramental elements.
Paedocommunionists and Federal Visionists (often the same persons) really have embraced a medieval, sacramental view of Christian existence. Whether they practice their beliefs or not, they hold fundamentally different views of how the Gospel works. Such views cannot be confined to the Supper. They will intrude themselves throughout their teaching. The medieval conception of the Gospel is brilliant and brilliantly wrong. It is, as the Reformers taught us, Satan’s great masterpiece. We know where this kind of teaching leads. Have we ceased to understand Satan’s devices? If I have misunderstood them, I would be very happy to hear them explain how the Lord’s Supper benefits their infant children.
July 29, 2010
Having been in a discussion about election and assurance on another forum, I thought I’d post an edited version here of what I wrote there.
First, we cannot know we are elect until we have come to Jesus as He is offered in the Gospel, that is, as our Lord and Savior. The only right order is to be persuaded you are a Christian because you have sincerely come to Christ. Then, and only then, can you conclude you are elect. We will spare ourselves a lot of sorrow if we do not start with what ought to be the conclusion (election).
Second, to have assurance we must focus on the Lord Jesus and the promises surrounding him. As we walk with Christ day by day, looking to his promises, based on his cross& resurrection, for the pardon of our daily sins, we find our faith becoming stronger. As we experience trust in him, our confidence grows into a more and more settled assurance. It is hard to argue that I do not know someone, if I am in his company on a regular basis.
Third, we must also examine ourselves to see if we are sincere (not perfect) in our love for him. We must be sincere. It ought to be obvious that hypocrites will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. One can be a sincere person who acts hypocritically, just as a hypocrite can appear to act sincerely. A believer’s inconsistencies and sin do not PROVE he is insincere. We must learn the difference between sincerity and perfection if we want to have any peace. Here the much maligned Puritans are invaluable. It is clear from James and from our Lord that not everyone who claims saving faith in Christ really has true, Holy Spirit-wrought saving faith. It is sincerity in life, along with daily communion with God through Christ that protects us from self-deception. There are those who engage in daily acts of piety and assume they are good Christians, who yet, prove themselves insincere by their life. Let me say again, one must know how to evaluate one’s life in order to determine if there is sincerity or not. It may be that those who object to including conduct in the equation for assurance are presently unable to discriminate between the sins of the wicked and the sins of the righteous. Manton, Burroughs and John Preston are just a few who have written explicitly on the nature of Gospel sincerity.
Fourth, it is always right to put one’s trust in God’s promises which are ‘YES!!!!!” in Christ. No matter what one has done, he may come to Christ for cleansing. If one is not persuaded that he has been sincere, let him go to Christ now as Savior and Lord based on Christ’s invitation in the gospel. One caution, however, start with faith before trying to repent & reform. They all go together, but the order is crucial. Believe the promises that God has generously given to those who will cast themselves upon Christ’s all-sufficiency. William Romaine’s ‘The Life, Walk and Triumph of Faith’ on Googlebooks.com is an excellent help to understanding the importance of keeping things in proper order. I heartily recommend it to everyone.
“Should We Pour Out Our Bitterness to God in Prayer?” – Resources for a woman despondent about unanswered prayer, pt. 2
June 3, 2010
My friend also asked me if he should encourage her to pour out her frustration, doubts and bitterness to God in prayer. This is what I counseled him. Would you agree or would you advise him differently? I’d appreciate any thoughts you have on this matter.
As for “honestly” pouring out her bitterness towards God in prayer, I would not counsel this. I don’t think God will strike her dead for it, especially if she is of his elect and Christ has died for all her sins, but we should not encourage irreverence as a means to spiritual growth. I realize that the Psalmist pours out his doubt and pain, but he almost always ends with seeing himself as a fool and praising God for his goodness. You could put together a Bible study of such passages to give to her. I would recommend Jerry Bridges’ “The Joy of Fearing God” as an antidote to irreverence and an encouragement to trust in God’s goodness.
A friend asked me a bibliographical question regarding a woman (leaving aside the question of her conversion) who was tempted to think that God was indifferent to her prayers. I composed the following list of topics and books that I thought would be germane. I’d be grateful to receive your counsel as to effective resources in such a case. Thanks, JOB
First, there are works that focus on the nature of true happiness. George Swinnock is quite accessible. The last section of “The Fading of the Flesh” focuses on God as our portion. So too is Thomas Brooks who wrote “An Ark For All God’s Noahs” on God as our portion. Both of these books will contrast the portion of the worldly person (the wicked) with God as our portion. They show how the things we want are so inferior to the things God gives. In modern authors you might recommend to her Elyse Fitzpatrick’s “Idols of the heart: Learning to Long for God Alone.” It’s from P&R. Possibly the woman’s touch would help. There is also Tim Keller’s “Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex and Power and the Only Hope That Matters.” There might also be profit in looking at Dan Allender’s “Breaking the Idols of Your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life.” He has unusual & helpful insights.
Second, there are books on contentment. Jeremiah Burroughs’ “Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” is easily the best. There some modern books by women which might speak to her. NavPress publishes Linda Dillow’s “Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment. Crossway publishes Lydia Brownback’s “Contentment: A Godly Woman’s Adornment. Both look very good and there’s nothing like a woman straight talking to another woman.
Thirdly, I would recommend Thomas Watson’s “All Things For Good.” It is an exposition of Romans 8:28. Likewise, John Flavel’s “Mystery of Providence.” These would help her understand what God is doing by his providence and why it is not against her.
Fourthly, I would suggest books on worldliness. Joel Beeke’s “Overcoming the World: Grace to Win The Daily Battle” would be very helpful. Jeremiah Burroughs has written penetratingly on worldly-mindedness and earthly-mindedness. I think Soli Deo still has it in print.
Fifth, I would suggest several books to work on her attitudes towards God. C.J. Mahaney has written “Humility: True Greatness” (Multnomah). Out of the Master’s Seminary (and Jay Adams) there is a book entitled, “Humility: The Forgotten Virtue” by Wayne Mack (from P&R) I would also recommend anything by Jerry Bridges. Three of his titles specifically stand out to me: “Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love (NavPress); “Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts” (NavPress) and “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate,” (NavPress).
Sixth, would be books on prayer, especially unanswered prayer. Thomas Goodwin’s “The Return of Prayer,” is the Puritan classic. Although I don’t like Jay Green’s printing, his edition is the most affordable on the net. I have been told by a discerning woman that Philip Yancey’s “Disappointed With God.” is very helpful.
May 22, 2010
I came across this most excellent post on that most ephemeral site, YouTube, by R. Andrews Myers. I didn’t want to lose it, so I copied it and pasted it here. (I don’t know if the links will work, but if they don’t, I’ll add them later. Thanks, Andrew! Enjoy!
As Methodist minister Samuel Dunn once wrote concerning those Puritan divines who preached the famous “Morning Exercises,” “There were giants in those days.” He is the author of a remarkable biographical work entitled Memoirs of seventy-five eminent Divines whose Discourses form the Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and Southwark (1844), which was recently digitized by Google Books, as Satch Chikhlia kindly brought to my attention. Besides biographical sketches which comprise a “who’s who” of the London Puritans, Dunn has done a great service by providing sermon outlines from each of the contributors. Of the seventy-five ministers, thirteen signed the 1673 Puritan Preface to the Scottish Metrical Psalter, nine were among the continuators of Matthew Poole’s English Annotations, and one was a continuator of Matthew Henry’s Commentary. The publication of this work accompanied the republication by James Nichols the same year of a “celebrated body of divinity” (James Darling) by those seventy-five divines which is, in my view, among the greatest of Puritan contributions to practical theology. Republished again in 1981 by Richard Owen Roberts under the title Puritan Sermons, 1659-1689, the six volumes comprised therein are also now at least mostly available online from both Google Books and the Internet Archive. Bill Sullivan has done an excellent job of assembling the links to access these works online. To read these sermons is to drink from a well of wisdom, and to this writer’s knowledge, there is no other single volume which includes biographical information of all seventy-five Puritan ministers in one place. Truly, there were giants in those days.
Samuel Miller is an ideal example of how Christians should discuss their differences in public. In 1821 he wrote a book entitled, ‘Letters on Unitarianism.’ In it he made some brief comments about the eternal Sonship of Christ and took issue with some of the means of defending that doctrine which Moses Stuart had given in his book against the Unitarian, W.E. Channing, in 1819.
Stuart thought Miller had dealt with him rather harshly, so in 1822, he wrote a defense of his views in a work entitled, ‘Letters on the Eternal Sonship of the Son of God Addressed to the Rev. Samuel Miller, D.D.’
Miller responded in 1823 and took up the issue of Christ’s Eternal Sonship at greater length with the publication of ‘Letters on the Eternal Sonship of Christ.’ This is a book that is well worth reading for the doctrine it expounds, but I would like to share with you selections showing how Miller responded to Stuart’s complaint, as well as, what he wrote about engaging in theological controversy. I have outlined his discussion with summary statements of key parts of his discussion. I have altered the structure of Miller’s Preface. I hope that the outline of principles will help in digesting and remembering the principles laid out by Miller. There are 14 such principles. Caveat lector!
1. Theological debate with those who are generally orthodox should be marked by esteem and respect for the other, notwithstanding significant differences on points of doctrine.
“I have read with serious and most respectful attention the ‘Letters’ which you addressed to me on ‘the Eternal Generation of the Son of God.’… And, as one whom I regard with so much cordial esteem… it is incumbent on me to say something in its defense. In attempting this, though I do not venture to hope that what I have to offer will produce a revolution in your opinion, it will at least serve to show the reasons of mine. Before I proceed further, allow me heartily to thank you for the fraternal respect and urbanity with which you have written on this subject. I thank you for the honor you have done me by your manner of addressing me. I congratulate you on the still greater honor you have done yourself, by maintaining, throughout, with such perfect success, the temper and language of a gentleman and a Christian. And, most of all, I rejoice in the honor you have done our common Christianity, by showing the enemies of the truth with what freedom from unhallowed feelings a friend of general orthodoxy can plead for his opinions.”
2. Understand the inevitably of disagreements and purpose in your conscience to distinguish between disputation and discussion.
“It shall be as you say. We will discuss, not dispute. And I do sincerely hope that those timid friends, who have apprehended that this discussion would prove injurious to the cause of truth, will be agreeably disappointed. Why should it be productive of injury? Have not differences of opinion existed in all ages, among the best of men, as well as among those of an opposite character? Do not the Orthodoxy universally acknowledge that diversity of views, as to many points, is quite consistent, not only with real, but also with ardent piety? What, then, should prevent brethren who respect and love one another from engaging in the amicable investigation of doctrines concerning which they may differ? They can be useful, though sometimes attended with circumstances which render them irksome. I will not give up the hope that you and I can, by the grace of God, with some degree of Christian meekness and affection, compare opinions and examine the grounds on which they rest; and that the way of truth will not be evil spoken of on our account…. I cherish a confident hope that our Unitarian neighbors will have no just cause for triumph.”
3. Be hesitant to enter into controversy, giving careful consideration to the harm, as well as the good that controversy can produce.
“I received letters from different and distant parts of the country… urging the propriety of some publication fitted to counteract the influence of such of its parts as were thought to be erroneous. I read these communications with no little anxiety; but not considering myself as either bound or qualified to enter the lists on this subject; and feeling peculiar reluctance to engage in a discussion which might be viewed with pain, by some of the friends of truth, and would, pretty certainly, be hailed by its enemies with joy; I resolved to lament in silence what was going on, rather than run the risk of impairing the cordiality of fellowship between brethren who certainly ought not to be divided.”
4. In Christian debate we must be very clear about the reasons for which we have entered into controversy.
I will not disguise, however, that something which you had said in one of your ‘Letters to Dr. Channing,’ was partly in my view in what I wrote. And as you have set me so noble an example of candor, I will frankly inform you by what considerations I was induced to touch on the subject under discussion, in my cursory remarks on the doctrine of the Trinity…. I must confess that my pleasure in perusing your ‘Letters to Dr. Channing’ suffered considerable deduction on account of several things which they contained. I thought that you had made some concessions to the enemies of truth, which could not fail to impair the strength of your cause and that, in defending that cause, you had abandoned some of the old, and as I verily believed, scriptural, positions and language which I had been long accustomed to see the Orthodox maintain, and which I could not but regard as of great value in their system…. But I do fear, my respected friend, as I shall hereafter more fully state, that some of your opinions and reasoning will turn out to be weapons put into the hands of Unitarians. I do fear, that, whatever may be thought of the leading doctrine which you maintain, your manner of conducting the defense of it, will be found to aid a very different cause from that which you and I profess to love. It is painful for me to say this. But I entered on the present correspondence with the resolution to keep nothing back, but to pour out the fullness of my heart to a brother, toward whom, however he may differ from me in opinion, I cannot help feeling the most cordial and unreserved confidence.”
5. The goal of public disagreement among Christians of general orthodoxy must be truth, not victory.
“May I be enabled to execute my purpose in a manner which shall evince that the attainment of truth and not victory is my aim!”
6. Although the Bible is infallible, we, its interpreters are not, therefore, we should always be willing to re-examine the reasons for our beliefs.
“The longer I have reflected and inquired on the subject, the more firm has been my confidence that my original instruction was sound and scriptural. But I am not unwilling again to examine into the correctness of that instruction. I rejoice that our lot is cast in an age and a country in which the most unlimited freedom of inquiry reigns. May this freedom never be abridged! If I do not deceive myself, I hold no opinion which I am not heartily willing to have examined to the bottom. No man will ever forfeit either my esteem or affection, by kindly and respectfully calling me to re-investigate any article in my creed, however long since I may have supposed it to be settled…. ‘Let us prove all things and hold fast that which is good. Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased.’”
7. Likewise, we should not be opposed in principle to there being new discoveries in the interpretation of the Bible without falling into the opposite error of embracing whatever is new because it is new.
“…one thing is certain, that, neither as Protestants, nor as Christians, ought we to allow ourselves to shut our eyes against the light, or to be blindly governed by the authority of our fathers…. And, allow me to add, that, as we evidently ought to teach our pupils, not to rely on the decisions of Councils or Synods, or on human authority in any shape, but to examine with solemn care the only infallible Rule of faith and practice; so, in my opinion, we are equally bound to guard them against that spirit of rash and hasty innovation, either in faith or practice, which has so often proved the bane of the church of Christ…. While free inquiry is commendable and a Christian duty; a rage for novelty, an ardent love of originality, as such, is one of the most unhappy symptoms… that a candidate for the ministry can well exhibit. I would not, for my right hand, exhort a young man always to adhere, whatever new light he may receive, to the old theological landmarks which our fathers have set up; but I would certainly and most earnestly exhort him, if he saw good reason to depart from them, to do it slowly, cautiously, respectfully and with the most solemn and prayerful deliberation.”
8. Remember, that, though possible, it is not an easy thing to go beyond the great scholars of our tradition.
“You observe that ‘dwarfs,’ as we of modern times may be thought, compared with the ‘giants of yore,’ yet that ‘we stand, at least, upon the shoulders of those ancient giants and must needs have a somewhat more extended horizon than they.’ I am not quite sure, my dear Sir, that the fact is really so. It does not appear to me an easy thing to get ‘on the shoulders of those giants.’ I suspect very few mount so high. Before we can claim to have attained so elevated a station and to enjoy ‘a more extended horizon’ than they, we must not only have their ponderous volumes on our shelves, but we must have in our heads and in our hearts, all that they had. For one, I lament that I have not a better claim myself to this honor; and feel bound to cultivate in my own mind, as well as in the minds of those whom I may be called to counsel in their studies, a more enlarged and deep acquaintance with what those ‘giants’ have really attained and published; as well as a more profound acquaintance with those Scriptures of truth, which they studied, I have no doubt, at least as diligently and candidly, if not with quite so many helps, as we have done.”
9. Seek the good and think charitably of the intention and effort of a brother of general orthodoxy, notwithstanding that you think him in serious error.
“…I read your ‘Letters to Dr. Channing’ with high respect for the learning and talent which they manifested and with no little gratitude to a brother, who was willing to employ his time and his strength in so good a cause.”
10. Christian courtesy does not prohibit frank statements of disagreement. Yet, frank statements of serious concerns, do not permit harsh and uncharitable language.
“But while I make this acknowledgment, and make it with unfeigned pleasure, I must say that your arguments have totally failed of convincing me that the positions which I laid down in my ‘Letters on Unitarianism,’ on the Eternal Sonship of Christ, are untenable. Nay – pardon me, my dear Sir, for saying, what candor and a conscientious regard to truth extort from me – Your pamphlet has impressed me with a stronger conviction than ever of the unsoundness of the cause which it is intended to support and of the questionable tendency – to speak in the most guarded terms, – of some of the opinions which it contains, and especially of some of the means to which you have resorted for maintaining them.”
11. Be very careful to avoid writing in such a manner as would likely offend a brother with whom you disagree.
“I, therefore, felt myself called upon, as it fairly came in my way, briefly but decisively to express an opinion on the subject. The thought of offending, even the most zealous and fastidious adherent to the doctrine which you hold, never entered my mind. To deliver my conscience and to avert from myself unjust suspicion, without wounding the feelings of a human being, formed the sum total of my purpose. If I failed of attaining it, I must regret the failure, but cannot reproach myself with any intention different from what has been stated…. Least of all did I think of assailing any one with language which ought certainly to be excluded from the fellowship of brethren.”
12. A frank and decided defense of one’s position must not prohibit true humility that is willing to frankly acknowledge incautious or offensive language.
“It has been the occasion of no small regret to me, that my mode of expressing myself, in my ‘Letters,’ should be considered by any as liable to the charge of undue severity, or as deficient in Christian courtesy…. “Nothing, I can declare, was more remote from my intention or wish than writing a line which might justly be construed as an offensive attack on any one, or which would be likely to provoke controversy…. But I was really prompted, my dear Sir, to make the remarks I did, not by any love of controversy; far less by any disposition to engage in controversy with you. I intended no such thing; anticipated no such thing.”
13. If someone has misconstrued our purpose in writing, we should do all in our power to explain the cause of the misunderstanding and to rectify it, not simply assert that we have been misunderstood.
(Miller addresses the sentences to which Stuart objected. He quotes the sentences in full and points out that) “upon every principle of fair construction, the epithets, ‘unphilosophical’ and ‘impious’ are applied, (as they certainly were intended to be) only to the assertion that God the Father, though he is from eternity, could not act from eternity. Now you declare that neither you, nor those who think with you, either assert or believe any such thing; and yet you seem to insist on applying the offensive epithets to yourselves. This I most sincerely regret. Nothing, I can solemnly assure you, my dear Sir, was ever further from my thoughts than such an application. The epithets in question were only meant to be applied to those who maintained certain opinions which I never for one moment, imagined that you or your friends maintained. It never occurred to my mind that any reader would think of applying them to you. I never could permit myself to use such language in reference to one toward whom I feel those sentiments of cordial respect and friendship which I have the pleasure of cherishing for you…. I had in view two classes of opponents – Unitarians, and those pious and otherwise orthodox brethren of New England and elsewhere, who, I was sensible thought differently from me on this subject….
Yet, after all, with the most perfect consciousness of innocence, as to my intention, in this case, I can now see, on a review of my language, that it might have been more carefully guarded; and I do sincerely wish it had been differently modified; and especially that the two-fold purpose just alluded to, had been more intelligibly and precisely stated. I hope, therefore, you will not only acquit me of all designed incivility, but that you will once for all, be persuaded that I am incapable of employing any turn of expression calculated, in the least degree to wound your feelings. My cause needs no such weapons, and my heart, if I do not deceive myself, instinctively revolts from them.”
(Miller explains that he had been called upon to give some lectures on Unitarianism in Baltimore. At first he had no intention of addressing the eternal Sonship of Christ, but as he prepared the lectures he found that “the interests of truth” required him to say something on the subject.)
14. We should enter into such discussion with much sincere prayer.
“While, therefore, I write, I desire to look up to the Holy Spirit of promise, that He may guide my heart and my pen into all truth; that He may guard me from all that irascible feeling, and all that un-candid, caviling spirit, which I think I hate and desire to avoid; and that our mutual edification and the honor of religion may be promoted by whatever shall be written.”
As you can see, I have not posted much since the early days of this blog. I found that reading Manton and writing a 600 word essay took about 4 hours. It soon became evident that I could not spend half a working day on that effort, as delightful as it might be. I have been devoting all my energy to the first part of Foundations of the Christian Life, namely, Life from the Father 1.
Today I am typing out my notes from John Arrowsmith’s exposition of John 1:1-18. It is entitled, ” Theanthropos, God made Man.” I came across a very nice little hermeneutical discussion on what repetition signifies in Scripture. In sum, Arrowsmith writes:
1. In prayer repetition serves to express fervency and earnestness. Matthew 26:44
2. In prophecies repetition serves to note the certainty of them. Genesis 41:22
3. In threats repetition indicates unavoidableness and, perhaps, suddenness. Ezekiel 21:27
4. In precepts repetition serves to note a necessity in performing them. Psalm 47:6
5. In truths repetition serves to show the necessity of believing them and of knowing them. John 3:3, 5, 17
John Arrowsmith was a very highly regarded teacher of theology. His was Master of St. John’s College, Cambridge University and, subsequently, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He was also Regius Professor of Divinity in the University. These men were scholars on a grand scale. In a single page he lays out such important observations and then moves on.
Enjoy! Caveat lector!
January 6, 2010
I found this exposition of the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, by Thomas Harrison,to be pithy and powerful. I hope you find it to be so also. (I have edited it somewhat to bring it into conformity with modern English usage. Words in brackets [ ] I have added for clarity’s sake.)
Christ gives the fact, that the kingdom belongs to God, as a reason to encourage us that God will hear and answer our prayers. [When he taught us to pray, ‘Thy Kingdom come,’ He was teaching us to pray:] ‘Your concern as a King is to have your honor advanced, therefore hallow your one name, glorify it in the church, let your kingdom come to it, advance your will in it, sustain us your subjects, pardon our sins, keep and defend us from evils. So [too,] ‘Thine is the power,’ by which you are able to exalt your own name, extend your kingdom over all, to fit us to do your will, to minister to our necessities, to pardon our sins, to preserve us from all evils. [Lastly,] ‘And thine is the glory,’ the hallowing of your name is the chief part of your glory; your kingdom the prime place of your glory; herein you are glorified, when we obey your will, when you provide for your people, forgive their sins, preserve and deliver them from their enemies; therefore do all these things for us. Therefore, we trust and hope that You will do all these things for us. Thus our blessed Savior directs us and thus the blessed saints have practiced in all ages.’
This is taken from his treatise, “Topica Sacra: Spiritual Logick: Some Brief Hints to Faith, Meditation and Prayer, Comfort and Holiness. Harrison was pastor of Christ Church, Dublin, Ireland. It was published in 1658