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Theological Fragments – 12-29-15

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE DETAILS.

Some Theological Fragments

I haven’t had much time to sit down and write lately so here is a quick fragmented list of what I have been reading and thinking about lately.

Bible Reading Plans for 2016

The folks at Ligonier have compiled a trusted list of Bible reading plans. Most of these allow you to read through the entire Bible at least once in a year.

While you’re at it, head on over to P&R Publishing and read this excellent post by Roger Festa on why many Bible Reading Plans will fail and what you can do about it. It includes an incredible free offer that you will not want to miss.

If you are thinking of a thousand reasons why you don’t want to participate in a Bible reading program, read this post by Melissa Kruger first.

Culture Wars

In case you missed it, The Atlantic wrote an interesting piece in November claiming that liberals are losing the culture war. It’s interesting that both sides are claiming to be the losers in this war. This is an indication of how heated these issues are. You know that things are volitile when both sides are so passionate that any opposition seems like a threat to their livelihood. The effect is that both sides are digging their heals into the dirt. Expect a bloody election season.

Meanwhile the PCUSA continues to plunder the property of the faithful. Viola Larson has a solid biblical response to persecution. Christians everywhere should consider the fact that we are now a minority and start asking how God would have us live as a persecuted minority. Read Viola’s post and then go back and read the accounts of how God’s people have always responded when living in exile. It may change your perspective on a few things. Do we throw in the towel? Absolutely not! However, on the other hand we never see God’s people leading a revolution. Change starts in the hearts of individuals works a gradual influence outwardly in the family, church, community, then nation.

On a national level, the Human Rights Campaign is encouraging intimidation of Christian colleges and calling for them to no longer be Christian. You can read Andrew Walker’s post on this in the National Review here. My opinion for what it’s worth is that Christian colleges and seminaries will no longer exist in 20 years. Perhaps sooner. In response, the church should begin to think of alternate means of training ministers. This discussion is long overdue. The task of equipping the saints for ministry (including ministers) belongs to the sphere of the church but starts in the sphere of the home.

Theology

I’m not entirely certain what the Roman Catholic church means by the recent document published by the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews,  but it seems to imply that Israel may be saved apart from confessing Christ. While on one hand they say that there is no salvation apart from Christ in the paper, they also say that Romans 11:29 leaves room some sort of salvation based upon God’s irrevocable call and that the answer to reconciling them is a mystery. It would be interesting to get some comments from any Catholic readers if there are any. How is this to be interpreted? Perhaps a closers reading is needed but at first glance this appears to be downright dangerous.

Speaking of God’s plan of salvation, Steven Lawson reminds us that the centerpiece of God’s saving plan is not us, but his glory. You can read his post here.

Christian Living

If you know anything about my favorite pastors you know that Sinclair Ferguson is at the top of my list. In this post, he handles the topic of contentment with his usual pastoral insight. This is good reading.

Another one of my favorite pastors (Joel Beeke) recently taught a class on fighting back worldliness in your family. It’s a two part series but as of today only part one has been posted. You will want to listen to this. It is good. Come back to it for part two in which he promises to give practical ways to combat worldliness in the family.

Recommended Reading

Continuing on my favorite pastors theme, here are some books that you may want to buy:

Parenting by God’s Promises by Joel Beeke

How Should Men Lead Their Families by Joel Beeke

Family Worship by Joel Beeke

The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters by Sinclair Ferguson

Name Above All Names by Alistair Begg & Sinclair Ferguson


29 thoughts on “Theological Fragments – 12-29-15

  1. Edwin

    I really enjoyed this post. I enjoyed the format.

    • Thanks Edwin. It was fun to write. I may do this more often if it is helpful

  2. Oooooh! I like the 5X5X5 plan. Never done this before.

    • Jen, I think that one would be perfect for you if you have never done this before. I’m excited for you on this journey!

      • Okay thanks Aaron!!! Do you even remember me?lol! Just curious 🙂

        • Yes, of course I do Jen! I’d also add that I am very excited for this new road you are traveling. I am simply amazed! I pray for you every time I see one of your comments. I pray that you will remain steadfast in the faith God has given you.

  3. Jen I will join you okay Im gonna read them to the kids well not relly cuz my pronounciation is bad on some words and I guess they come out sounding funny but Im gonna LISTEN to it every day cuz I bought MP3s of the Bible ALL THE BIBLE so I can read or listen I mean to the Bible in a year with the kids okay?

  4. I agree with Edwin. I kind of like this format too Aaron. I like hearing your thoughts on some of the contemporary issues like church/state relations. Interesting thoughts. Especially about the seminary and colleges being challenged. It wouldn’t be too far fetched of an idea to see the state taking control. The colleges will need to choose between God and man. If they follow God they will have to close down and you are right. Where will we educate our young pastors? Of course in the church! Much to think about. Thanks.

    About the catholic thing. I used to be Catholic I guess. Was born that way so I guess it counts. Then I got saved. I don’t talk about it much since I’m not even sure what they really believe myself but my brother is really into it. He’ll just say that isn’t how they meant it and we should leave it a mystery. He’ll say that in his eastern mystical guru sort of voice. Mystery is code I think for we just said something heretical but need to explain it away for the next 50 years until the idea is more generally accepted by the faithful and then we will clarify that what we really meant was yes, Jews will be saved apart from Christ.

    Good post by Viola Larson. Very good post. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Joseph K.

    How we respond to persecution tells us a lot about what our hearts are attached to. Do we, like the saints in Hebrews consider ourselves to be strangers and pilgrims on earth? Do we look for a homeland that is a heavenly country or are we so attached to the world that we feel we must fight as if this was our inheritance? Yes, we will live forever on Earth and all will be subjected under Christ, but the scriptures seem to be clear that there is a distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. Hebrews 11.16 says if we live with an other-worldly perspective, placing our hope in the promise then God will not be ashamed to be called our God for he has prepared a city for us.In the face of persecution we simply focus on living holy lives and put our hope in our eternal home, not in the city of man. Hebrews 11.38 says if we respond in such a way, the world will not be worthy of us. So yes, we are a minority. But God calls us a remnant. Chosen and set apart by him to live quiet peaceful lives. We live in submission to God’s law first, and then in submission to all other authority as long as we continue under God first and foremost. Scripture knows nothing of fighting for our “rights”.

    • Joseph that is an important distinction. We are a remnant, not merely a minority.

  6. Drew

    I disagree completely! Joseph, we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles and the eternal law of God! We have a duty to claim this back! The church is weak today because the church has chosen to not get involved in the culture wars! We must fight for our Christian heritage or all is lost!

    • Drew, thanks for joining in the conversation. I’m curious, in what way are we a Christian nation? When you say that, what do you mean? That we are a majority Christian? That our founders were Christian? Or something else? While I would agree that our nation was founded on Christian principles I don’t believe that our founders were all Christian in the truest sense of the word. Their worldview was influenced heavily by Christianity and by Enlightenment philosophy (which was secular). Yes, Christian principles informed all of their beliefs and morality but what does that mean for us today? We are certainly becoming a minority. How are we to live in light of being a minority? Does the church take up arms or does she go about the business of word and sacarament? These are the types of questions I would like to explore in this dialogue.

      • Drew

        My thing is we just got to take back what belongs to us. This nation belongs to the Christians in covenant with God not the Muslims or baby killers or gays. It’s ours and we sure oght to put up a good fight. The only other thing comparable to this take over is the Arabs taking Israels land. We need to fight for it like they fight for it because God gave it to us.

  7. Aaron Parenting by God’s Promises looks good. Have you read it? Obviously you recommend it so I’m guessing so. Can you tell me a little about it?

    • Mari, yes I have read it. I really enjoyed it. He strikes a balance between behavior and heart that is rare. Perhaps I should read it again and review it! It’s been a few years.

  8. Bailey

    I love (LOVE!!! ♡) this line in the Melissa Kruger post you linked to!

    “Just in case you’re wondering, there is no angel in heaven with a star chart keeping record of who read his or her Bible today. God accepts you fully on the merits of Christ’s perfect obedience. If you are in Christ, you are clothed in His righteousness. You are made perfect by His blood, not by your Bible reading.

    But, how am I assured of this truth? I read it in the Bible.”

    Perfectly stated as usual. She nailed it. We don’t earn anything by doing this but doing it gives us assurance when we hear the gospel!

  9. Dave

    I am Catholic although recently have been more drawn to the Protestant understanding of grace as you write about often. Mostly the idea that we are sanctified through the gospel rather than through participating in good works. I don’t know if my good works merit anything but I don’t think I’m going to experiment with that one. To do otherwise is to cast off good works and do evil.

    At this point still being Catholic and still respecting the Church I would have to say that they will never say that anyone can be saved apart from Christ but if they do say that and it comes to us as doctrine then yes, the Jews somehow will be saved despite not acknowledging Jesus Christ as God.

  10. Todd Eyler

    Are you guys just making this crap up? I didn’t read it closely but I didn’t see anything about Jews being saved while not first being baptized Christian. I’m Catholic but really don’t care much about these discussions. Whatever the Church says now will change later. The Church used to teach we can kill heretics (bull Ad Exitirpanda) now they say it’s wrong. They used to say we can enslave non believers (bull Dum Divers & Romanus Pontifex) now it’s wrong. They used to say the world was flat. My point is the Church has been wrong, very wrong in the past. The issues today like birth control, abortion, gay rights, these are all going to change in 100 years. Life will go on and progressive Catholics like myself will be exonerated.

    • Gregory M.

      Todd if I may ask, why are you even Catholic? You don’t seem to agree with them on much and your own words cast suspicion on their supposed infallibility. And what’s up with this bull allowing heretics to be killed and keeping slaves?

  11. Dave

    Todd, from paragraph 36,

    “From the Christian confession that there can be only one path to salvation, however, it does not in any way follow that the Jews are excluded from God’s salvation because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God”

    and

    “That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery.”

    This is somewhat resolved in paragraph 37,

    “Here we confront the mystery of God’s work, which is not a matter of missionary efforts to convert Jews, but rather the expectation that the Lord will bring about the hour when we will all be united, “when all peoples will call on God with one voice and ‘serve him shoulder to shoulder’ ” (“Nostra aetate”, No.4).”

    I believe the Jews get an automatic bid into heaven if they trust in God to provide a messiah like they were saved before Christ. Their ignorance of seeing Jesus as the promised one will be overlooked and God will see instead their faith in his promise to provide salvation himself. So I say they are probably saved in the same way the Jews like Abraham and Moses were saved.

    • Gregory M.

      Dave you’re okay with your church saying that salvation can be found outside of Christ? I mean really? This is the kind of thing that used to result in ecumenical councils!

      • Dave

        1. Ad Exitirpanda specifically forbade killing. It was limited to torture.
        2. This was a bull. It isn’t infallible so the Church is free to change its mind on it. Ad Exitirpanda did not establish doctrine.
        3. Todd is a very confused Catholic. He is probably Catholic because his family is Catholic. He has clearly taken a stand against the moral teachings of the Church and he is wrong about the Church changing its stance on these issues in 100 years. The Church will not change its mind on moral teachings.

      • Dave

        I left my last response under the wrong one but you can read up a few comments to see which one I was addressing. To answer THIS question, they are not saying salvation can be found outside of Christ. Read it again. They are saying salvation is only through Christ but somehow the Jews are saved despite their unbelief. How? Who knows. It’s a mystery.Yeah. I’m okay with that is that is what they decide. But it’s important to note that this is just a discussion and not doctrine. They could be wrong and if so then no harm done. It was just a discussion to explore the promises made to Israel.

  12. Gregory M.

    Dave, thanks for the clarification on the bull. It was indeed a decree sanctioning torture of heretics and not murder. Somehow I don’t feel any greater fondness for the Catholic Church with that distinction in mind though. So the church never changes its mind on moral issues? Wouldn’t you consider torture of another human being and slavery moral issues? Or are those amoral according to Catholicism?

  13. Todd Eyler

    Dave that’s just great. On small insignificant issues like torture and slavery the Church can change its mind but on really big issues like who a man can love and choosing when to have a baby…those REALLY BIG issues are set in stone. Good explanation mate. I’m a confused Catholic and you are the one justifying torture and slavery while insisting that women can’t choose how many kids to have. Brilliant!

    I’m not confused. I just recognize that Catholic teaching evolves and am encouraging a faster evolution. History proves that the Church will change on these issues as the culture changes. Why wait a few generations? Just clarify what God really means and change now.

  14. The Joel Beeke message was really Good. Thanks for sharing that! It looks like they haven’t uploaded the second part yet but is also looks like he did the sermon that week so maybe he will teach the second part of the worldiness message next week.

  15. I’m excited about P&R’s free 30 day e-course. I think know it will help keep me on track for my Bible reading plan!

    • Michelle, I’m glad you’re excited about it. I am as well!

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