Friday, May 23, 2014

The "The Puritans Are Not the Bible" Card

"If someone could point me to one passage in the Bible that says...AND DON'T POINT TO SOME OBSCURE PURITAN WHO GOT IT WRONG, OK?!...that actually says explicitly that the Law itself generates love for God and neighbor, I will listen." (Tullian Tchividjian, Chris Rosebrough Interview)

I think this was in reaction to this:

"But what of Tchividjian's claim that these false teachers assume 'that the law (in all of its uses) [has] the power to produce what it demands'? Would anyone argue such nonsense? Well, I do know of some ministers - in fact, even some who were responsible for crafting the Westminster Confession of Faith - who have argued that after Adam's fall, 'God therefore set forth a copy of his law in his word, which is the means of sanctifying us; and sanctification itself is but a writing of that law in the heart' (Thomas Goodwin). Likewise, Anthony Burgess argued that God's commands not only inform us of our duty, but are also 'practical and operative means appointed by God, to work, at least in some degree, that which is commanded.' Samuel Rutherford said essentially the same thing in his disputes against the antinomians because they denied that the law was a true instrument of sanctification.

We all know that apart from the Holy Spirit we can do nothing. And we all know that God's commandments do not have the power, in the abstract, to 'produce what they demand.' (In fact, even announcements of God's saving power in Christ have no effect apart from the Spirit's application.) But, it should be noted, the faithful preaching of God's commands in the context of a faithful gospel ministry can produce real change in a sinner's life because God has ordained his commandments to work, 'at least in some degree, that which is commanded.' In other words, failing to preach God's commandments robs Christ's sheep of a true means of sanctification, and thus they may be - ahem! - less holy as a result. We preach God's commandments to God's people because God has promised to bless such preaching with the Holy Spirit." (Mark Jones, Tullian's Trench)

I had a hunch that TT would be pulling out the "The Puritans are not the Bible" card in the event the proposed debate with Mark Jones materializes. The quote above was a foretaste. At any rate, MJ's explanation of how the Law—as blessed by the work of the Holy Spirit and not taken abstractly—is indeed a means of sanctification pretty much lays that point by TT to rest.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Confused About the Tullian Tchividjian Thingy?

If so, the following couple of resources should serve to enlighten you on what the so-called "Contemporary Grace Movement" is and why many of the Reformed servants of the Lord have taken up arms, as it were, against TT's take on sanctification and why he got ejected, ironically, from the "Gospel Coalition."

A brief, critical explanation by Ligon Duncan:

A more thorough and passionate explication by Rev. James Barnes:

Alternative link: Critique of the Contemporary Grace Movement

Monday, May 19, 2014

Goodwin and Owen on Christ's Pity and Patience

"There is comfort concerning such infirmities, in that your very sins move him to pity more than to anger. This text is plain for it, for he suffers with us under our infirmities, and by infirmities are meant sins, as well as other miseries, as was proved; whilst therefore you look on them as infirmities, as God here looks upon them, and speaks of them in his own, and as your disease, and complain to Christ of them, and do cry out, ‘miserable man that I am, who shall deliver me?’ so long fear not. Christ he takes part with you, and is so far from being provoked against you, as all his anger is turned upon your sin to ruin it; yea, his pity is increased the more towards you, even as the heart of a father is to a child that has some loathsome disease, or as one is to a member of his body that has the leprosy, he hates not the member, for it is his flesh, but the disease, and that provokes him to pity the part affected the more. What shall not make for us, when our sins, that are both against Christ and us, shall be turned as motives to him to pity us the more? The object of pity is one in misery whom we love; and the greater the misery is, the more is the pity when the party is beloved. Now of all miseries, sin is the greatest; and whilst yourselves look at it as such, Christ will look upon it as such only also in you. And he, loving your persons, and hating only the sin, his hatred shall all fall, and that only upon the sin, to free you of it by its ruin and destruction, but his bowels shall be the more drawn out to you; and this as much when you lie under sin as under any other affliction. Therefore fear not, ‘What shall separate us from Christ’s love?’" (Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ Towards Sinners on Earth)

"A soul acquainted with the gospel knows that there is no property of Christ rendered more glorious therein than that of his patience." (John Owen, Overcoming Sin & Temptation, eds. Kelly Kapic & Justin Taylor [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2006], 204)

What a glorious and comforting picture of one of the reasons why the Eternal Son of God had to assume human nature upon Himself, i.e., "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2:14-18).

Monday, May 12, 2014

Van Til and His Rollie

"When I think what an aid tobacco is to friendship and Christian patience, I have sometimes regretted that I never began to smoke." (J. Gresham Machen)

Seems Cornelius Van Til didn't suffer through such a regret.

(click to enlarge)

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