From the Comments: Is direct operation of the Spirit essential? Part 2

HolySpirit7As is so often the case, the OT sheds light on the NT.

As we covered in a series of posts last year called “The Salvation of the Jews,” we concluded that the Jews, just like the Christians, are saved by the terms of God’s covenant with Abraham. They were saved by faith just as we’re saved by faith. (I’m not going to repeat the argument here in the comments.)

But in the OT, the Spirit was only given to prophets, judges, kings, and a few artisans. Most people did not receive the Spirit. Was the Spirit essential to the Jews’ salvation? Well … what’s the story? Continue reading

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Robbie Seay Band: “Baptize Me in the River”

 

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Canyon City: “Flicker”

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From the Comments: Is direct operation of the Spirit essential? Part 1

HolySpirit7Jeff R asked,

Do you believe in the Calvinist doctrine, that it takes a direct operation of the Spirit to influence the heart of an alien sinner? I believe that it’s the word preached that influences that heart, causes it to be pricked. It’s the human heart that must decide if it will believe the message given and obey.

I do not believe in Calvinist double predestination. I’m an Arminian. Ish. Not exactly Arminian, but close enough.

Why then must there be a direct operation of the Spirit to keep the Christian faithful?

Why must there be a “must” in your question? Why must something be essential to be true? Why do you assume a black and white world? Continue reading

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Homosexuality: Arguments Opposed, Part 4

gay christianWe are thinking through additional counter-arguments to those in favor of gay marriage proposed by Richard Beck in his blog.

How can it be loving for God to prohibit homosexuals from engaging in homosexual sex?

Well, the reasons given in the scriptures are largely theological and often quite profound, but the question is never, to my knowledge, answered in this way — with one exception. Listen carefully to what Paul is saying in Romans 1 —

 (Rom 1:18-20 ESV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

First point: Even when God has not revealed his will through special revelation, such as the Law of Moses, the Creation itself reveals enough about God to make certain things very clear — clear enough that even those who’ve never heard of God or his Law can be fairly held accountable for their sins (as Paul explains further in Rom 5). Continue reading

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Songs Without Notes: A Meandering History of Hymnals and Vocal Music, with Rant — Part 5

CrownHimWithManyCrownsRant

In many Churches of Christ, the kinds with “worship leaders” rather than “song leaders,” we’ve rejected hymnals altogether, replacing them with projection of the lyrics on a screen (actually, a very good idea) backed by a waterfall scene.

For a while, we projected the notes with the lyrics — but this is becoming unfashionable on the theory that visitors will not know how to read notes and will feel intimidated. Besides, Willow Creek doesn’t project the notes. And they’re big.

As a result, we’re now back to where the church was before the Protestant Reformation, with songs that are often unsingable by the church members, no hymnals, and no notes (all in the name of making our music more accessible to visitors).

Of course, this theory reflects a rather low opinion of the musical gifts of our visitors (we’re just a little too full of ourselves on this point) and surrenders one of the biggest advantages we have because of our Church of Christ heritage: we sing beautiful four-part harmonies. Why do we want to throw this away? Continue reading

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Homosexuality: Arguments Opposed, Part 3

gay christianWe are thinking through additional counter-arguments to those in favor of gay marriage proposed by Richard Beck in his blog.

In yesterday’s post, I pointed out that we are given two biblical templates for life in the image of God — heterosexual marriage and celibate singleness. Both are declared to be in the image of God — and nothing else is.

Why? Well, perhaps this will help our understanding —

This metaphysics of sex, however, only finds explicit statement once in the Bible: “for love is fierce as death, passion is mighty as Sheol, its darts are darts of fire, a blazing flame. Vast floods cannot quench love, nor rivers drown it” (Song of Songs 8:6–7). Otherwise, there is no explicit reflection on the meaning of sexuality nor its place in the cosmic order.

The reason for this absence may be monotheism itself. There is no sexuality in the divine sphere. God, usually envisioned as male in gender, is not phallic; God does not represent male virility, and is never imaged below the waist.

The prophets use a powerful marital metaphor for the relationship between God, the “husband,” and Israel, the “wife,” but the relationship is not described in erotic language. God neither models nor grants sexual potency or attraction. Continue reading

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Homosexuality: Arguments Opposed, Part 2

gay christianWe are thinking through additional counter-arguments to those in favor of gay marriage proposed by Richard Beck in his blog.

Now, as I discussed in detail in my series “Jesus, Paul & the Hermeneutics of Sexuality,” Jesus and Paul find their marital and sexual ethics in Gen 2, largely in the relationship of Adam and Eve before sin entered the world. To their thinking, the Gen 2 relationship of Adam and Eve is God’s template for how married people should live together.

I just realized the other day that the scriptures point us to two — and only two — models for how we’re to be returned to the image of God. Recall that one of the major points of the entire Bible is God’s work among humankind to restore us to his image. It’s one of the major themes of scripture coursing from Gen 1 to Rev 22.  It’s a big, big deal. Continue reading

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Songs Without Notes: A Meandering History of Hymnals and Vocal Music, with Rant — Part 4

CrownHimWithManyCrownsRestoration Movement

The Restoration Movement is the product the merger of two earlier movements, one founded by (among others) Barton W. Stone in Illinois and one founded by Thomas Campbell in western Pennsylvania. Both men were defrocked Presbyterian ministers, expelled from their denomination for treating believers outside their denomination (or sect within Presbyterianism) as brothers in Christ.

Soon many towns had churches of both stripes, and yet they were similar (not identical) in their preaching. By this time also, Alexander Campbell had become the leader of the Campbell-movement (“Reformer”) churches, working among the Baptists to unite across denominational and doctrinal lines based on confession of Jesus as Messiah and submission to baptism — and nothing more.

In 1832, the two congregations in Lexington, Kentucky famously merged at the behest of leaders of both movements — although Alexander Campbell was initially reluctant to bless the merging of the movements. But he quickly came to endorse the idea, and congregations across the American frontier merged. Continue reading

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Homosexuality: Arguments Opposed, Part 1

gay christian[This is rewritten from a post from years ago.]

There are, of course, many factors pushing marriage rates down in the West, and there have been for years. They largely fit within the rubric of “marriage is but a social construct.” And each time society pushes further in that direction, the marriage rate goes down.

It’s not uniquely homosexual marriage. Rather, homosexual marriage is just the most recent sharp nail being driven into the coffin of traditional marriage.

It goes back to the 1960s with the destigmatization of unmarried couples living together, providing a non-marital alternative, which eventually became fully socialized. As a result, the gay-marriage debate suffered from the fact that it’s now perfectly legal for gay couples to live together and be sexually active together. Hence, why was gay marriage even necessary? Continue reading

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