With the timeliness that suggests providence, the New Reformation Press reprinted a fabulous quote from the English writer of the early 20th century, Dorothy Sayers, that is a great starting point for tonight’s rebuttal. Here is the link:
I have already linked to the comments to which I will refer tonight at the end of the prior post. The text is well written and on the whole more cordial than I have been. Let us address then, with the decorum and grace of Christians, our differences, and see if I too can suggest a reading list that matches at the very least the distinguished names we encountered there. (There is almost no possibility that I will achieve what I am seeking to do with this post in terms of decorum, so I will apologize now so that I don’t miss my chance later.) Let’s begin.
While I would agree with Ogre that we may be worlds apart in theology and doctrine I do believe that we share a common goal in understanding that the Church needs reformation.
This sentence should take primacy in our discussion. The importance of this next point is vital in our discussion. If we both think the Church needs reformation, what do you believe is the problem? If I am at all convicted that we might view the same problems, I am certain we have different solutions. Our reformations would look nothing alike. From my perspective, your reformation took place in the mid-19th century, and you have already won the day. Your reformation is the reason for the modern church we have today. What more, pray tell, would you have us do to the church that we haven’t already done in the last 150 years? We have revivals, altar calls, modern music, an abandonment of the word and sacrament means of grace, and a disdain for doctrine that would truly embarrass and disappoint Screwtape all the more. Where else can you go to destroy the last vestiges of the Reformed tradition?
Perhaps we can find the answer to this question as we explore the next section of the post.
I am here to testify to the power of Christ crucified and alive in me. I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God written with man’s hand and that the full meanings of Scripture are still being unlocked for us today as God reveals new truth about Himself through His Word. I believe that there are layers of meaning in Scripture when taken in the original Hebrew from both a pictographic and phonic context and that what is stated in the Bible is pertinent for today as Jesus is a fulfillment of the law as set forth in the Old Testament.
I have read this several times, and I must confess that I have no idea what it means. As a seminary student who will soon embark upon the study of Greek and Hebrew, and as a person who has already formally studied to a limited degree four languages other than English (mastering none of them,) I have a great idea of the importance of phonemes, conjugation, inflection and grammar. I have no idea of the pictographic or phonic context of any of those languages. Maybe I’m just being stubborn and your meaning is the same as mine. But there exists in this passage the insistence upon continuing revelation based upon the Word rather than as specifically and carefully recorded in the Word. The idea of divine inspiration is being applied to the modern eye and ear receiving the Word rather than to the humans who recorded the Word. I am here to testify to the power of Christ crucified and alive in me. This creates a situation in which there is continuing revelation. The implication is that the revelation of redemptive history as laid out across time and as recorded in the Bible is insufficient to its stated purpose: the salvation of man. This is a troubling perspective to me and one to which I will return in a bit. You see, I am here to testify to Christ incarnate, crucified and arisen. Do you see the difference? I am not a part of the predicate of my declaration.
Not for one second do I want to challenge the experience of any person who claims the title of Christian. I avoided that in my first post, and I shall do that now. But I will leave this question out there on the subject: if experience is the key to conversion and ongoing revelation, and my experience is different than yours, how is the revelation the same? How can we all call ourselves by the same label, when each has his own experience of God? Let’s move onto the next statement I would like to discuss.
The Apostolic Reformation is not about doctrine, rules or a denomination but rather about relationships and ‘fathering’ the next generation. It is our desire to model Christ-likeness through the power of the Holy Spirit and His grace to the people around us on an intergenerational level….
My favorite line on this subject comes from Mike Horton, and he’s so well read, who knows where he found it: How can you have a relationship with someone you know little or nothing about? Here is the problem. If you want to go around proof texting, you are going to have to dirty your hands with some doctrine. The two are not separable. The Bible was not created to give us a sort of Barlett’s quotations of useful phrases to fit any occasion. There is a story that unfolds from Genesis to Revelation, the story of the greatest rescue mission of all time. Doctrine is the plotline of that story. Doctrine is the story. (Paraphrasing Dorothy Sayers.)
Rather than discussing an exegesis of Acts 2 and the Joel passage that it quotes, which I have done several times before, I want to avoid the exegesis issue with you for a while longer. How can one at the same time as claiming not to be a theologian, nonetheless use passages towards a specific purpose or goal, the very functionality of being a theologian of one stripe or another? We cannot debate theology when one side does not acknowledge that we are doing just that. We are all theologians, every one of us, including the Muslims, the Buddhists and the atheists.
As a brief aside, the comparison of Martin Luther, John Knox, John Calvin and John Wycliffe to Pierce, Wagner and those others as like individuals is troubling. Martin Luther, John Knox and John Calvin followed the example of Wycliffe who was perhaps first in articulating sola scriptura before we came to know that view of authority as such. The others you mentioned absolutely do not hold to anything remotely resembling sola scriptura. In my effort to keep my tone civil, I need to let this go. The simplest thing to say so that I can move on is that Martin Luther’s writings are not a part of the Canon, not even for Lutherans.
On the topics of dominion and theocracy, we can agree that your first statement about not speaking for NAR is certainly true. Your definition of dominion is completely different than that given by Wagner and has no significant eschatological import as his certainly does. So we can safely avoid that discussion as I was remarking on Wagner’s position, not on your experience, which I have stated that I consider out of bounds.
In your last paragraph, you returned to proof texting and using a verse out of context. Again, I think it would be wonderful to do exegesis of some of these passages that you quoted, but it would require a commitment by you to stay the course. What will you do when your understanding of a passage runs afoul of other passages? Will you follow the thread of reason and discernment to a different path, or will you accept contradiction within the Word of God?
If you want to be challenged, keep coming back. I have only two rules that I will keep for myself on this thread. First, I will not discuss your experience or mine for that matter. Neither is contained within the Bible. Second, although I linked to your website in the prior post, I do not use names on this blog. I have been blessed with far too little humility and far too little knowledge, and I do have my own experience with the Holy Spirit. Be that as it may, I believe that there is such a thing as saving faith and that faith has a specific object. We can call each other brothers in Christ when that definition is at least preserved. Please do return as this debate might be helpful to many others who read here.
And finally, as for that once promised reading list, and I’m sure I’ll be getting some suggestions from some of my brothers tomorrow, here are some that you yourself recommended in your post, indirectly of course, plus a couple of others.
The Institutes of Religion by John Calvin.
The Small Catechism by Martin Luther.
Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.
Putting Amazing Back into Grace by Mike Horton
Try the Building Blocks posts on this blog from this year.
And I leave you with Dorothy Sayers once again.
The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ.…Theologically this country is at present is in a state of utter chaos established in the name of religious toleration and rapidly degenerating into flight from reason and the death of hope.
– Ogre –