A style that I seemed to have settled into is that whenever I have a brief hiatus from blogging (or do not have much to say) I tend to start up again with posts that tour blogs I am interested in.
I had a mini-hiatus and I filled up my Google Reader with literally hundreds of posts that I had not read through. In a smaller group, I had some "starred items" that I had marked with the intent to perhaps blog on myself.
I went through and cleaned out my Reader on Sunday, and thought that I might highlight some posts that I think are interesting - with a strong emphasis on some series and/or topics that I found attractive but have not written on:
C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen has a series titled “. . . And Other Stupid Statements”:
- "Belief is No Good Without Practice": Part I, Part II, and Part III
Translation in our generation: “Since right belief (doctrine, systematic theology, understanding, etc) does not evidence itself in practical matters immediately and causes people to be arrogant, we should not even worry about belief at all and just get out there and “do” what we know is right. Orthodoxy is bad. Orthopraxy is good . . .
- "You Ask Me How I Know He Lives . . . He Lives Within My Heart"
As started by Luther and developed further by Melancthon and others, the understanding of faith was expressed in three separate yet vitally connected aspects: notitia, assensus, and fiducia
- Notitia: This is the basic informational foundation of our faith. It is best expressed by the word “content.” Faith, according to the Reformers, must have content or substance. You cannot have faith in nothing. There must be some referential, propositional truth to which the faith points. The proposition “Christ rose from the grave” or “God loves you” for example, provide a necessary information base or notitia that Christians must have.
- Assensus: This is the assent, confidence, or assurance that we have that the notitia is correct. Here we assent to the information, affirming it to be true. This involves evidence which leads to the conviction of the truthfulness of the proposition. According to the Reformers, to have knowledge of the proposition is not enough. We must, to some degree, be convinced that it is really true. This involves intellectual assent and persuasion based upon some degree of critical thought. While notitia claims “Christ rose from the grave,” assensus takes the next step and says, “I am persuaded to believe that Christ rose from the grave.”
- "I Was Going to Preach this, but the Holy Spirit Led Me to This"
The idea it conveys is that the particular message that was prepared was not of God (at least at that time) and this new message was most certainly of God. In fact, the new message is miraculously of God! Why? Because I did not really prepare for it. It must have been God who prepared it. “I just step back when that happens and let God do his thing. Who am I to interrupt God?”
- "One White Lie Will Send You to Hell For All Eternity"
I have to be very careful here since I am going against what has become the popular evangelical way to present the Gospel, but I don’t believe this is true. Not only do I not buy it, I think this, like the idea that all sins are equal in the sight of God, is damaging to the character of God, the significance of the cross, and I believe it trivializes sin. Let me explain . . .
- "The Trinity is Like 3-in-1 Shampoo"
“The doctrine of the Trinity is like an egg: three parts, one thing.” Ever heard that? How about this, “The doctrine of the Trinity is like a three leaf clover: three leaves, one clover.” Or how about THIS, “The doctrine of the Trinity is like water: three forms (ice, steam, liquid) one substance.” But the greatest I ever heard was by a guy in one of my classes. He said that he thought that the Trinity was like 3-in-1 shampoo: three activities, one substance.”
Stupid statements. Creative, but stupid. Don’t use them. Any of them. Ever.
Explanation coming… Hang with me . . .
- "The Bible Says it, therefore it's True"
Just because the Bible says something, this does not make it true. We follow the Bible in what it teaches, but not everything it records is intended to be teaching in the proper sense. Our goal as Christians is to be good interpreters of the Bible, being able to discern when something is being taught or when something is being told.
Here are five ways that we can mistakenly believe that the Bible is teaching truth or principles when it is not . . .
- "All Sins are Equal in God's Sight"
It is very common within popular evangelicalism to answer this question in the affirmative. This was one of the main assumptions in a book that I just recommended last week. Most find this theological concept very appealing and accept it, I am afraid to say, without doing much homework.
I think this tendency to assume that all sins are equal in the sight of God comes by means of three influences . . .
- "When We Get to Heaven, We Will Be Timeless"
The statement, “When we get to heaven, we will be timeless” represents a fundamental misunderstanding of Christian theology. To have this view of the afterlife, one must either be, as I said, either a modified pantheist or an atheist.
- "Nothing Could Be Further from the Truth"
Overstatement, unqualified superlatives, and non-contingent propositions, are related and can be thought of as different ways of saying the same thing. In fact, you might say that they all belong in the same semantic domain that we might call “imbalance.” Once I detect imbalance, I usually have a hard time going on. Think of phrases like these . . .
- "In Heaven, We Will Be Bowing Down Before the Throne of God 24/7"
Simply and unspiritually put, that does not sound like too much fun. The answer was always the same when I would timidly admit my fear of ultimate and eternal boredom: “When you are in heaven, sinless and in perfect submission to God’s will, you will be perfectly and joyfully content bowing before the throne of God all day, everyday.”
I would think to myself (although I would never admit it), I am not sure that I want to go there. I mean, I love God and certainly don’t mind bowing before him, but 24/7? If this is something that I will enjoy, it probably is not really me in the resurrection. For years I lived with the unspoken shame that I did not really want to go to heaven.
- "Everyone Who Disagrees with Me is a Liar"
The presupposition is this: Whenever someone teaches something you disagree with, the rhetoric employed to combat such is accusations of lies. In other words, if someone does not teach the truth in your opinion, they are lying. Period. No question about it.
- "I Don't Want to Know About God, I Just Want to Know Him"
I have been in discussions with a gentleman who reads this blog and, occasionally, will take one of my theology courses. The main topic of discussion is the necessity of theological discourse for the average Christian. Whether it be big words, concepts, or ideas, this gentleman does not think such things are necessary for the Christian life. He prefers the simplicity of loving God and leaving the rest to the theologians. His basic argument is that such things can and often do take away from our ability to live the Christian life due to their “side-tracking” nature.
Let me paraphrase a comment he would typically make:
“Whether you are a Calvinist or an Arminian, a traducianist or creationist, believe in soul sleep or intermediate bliss, believe in transubstantiation, consubstantiation, or memorialism, none of these ultimately makes any difference. In fact, these beliefs serve more to bring about sinful divisiveness than anything else.”
- "God Comes Before My Wife"
I would say from experience that if your marriage is not going well, nothing is going well. Your ministry, insights, and everything else will suffer when your wife is not your priority. And if it does not, then that may be an even bigger problem: apathy. Apathy toward your marital relationship. Solution: Redirect all passion to ministry. What a terrible place to be. Understandable, but terrible.
- "If the Bible is Not Inerrant, then Christianity is False"
When Greg rejected the doctrine of inerrancy because of his inability to reconcile the discrepancies, did this necessarily mean that he had to walk away from the faith?