Are you OF this world or IN it?

Sometimes I feel postmillennial and I just want to “redeem the culture” and I suspect that this world IS my home. And the weird thing is that there is a way in which it is true! God never meant for us to exist without a world to take care of. There will be a new heaven and a NEW EARTH. We will always be taking care of the earth, the earth the way it should have been all along. But THIS world… is not my home.

Once again I have been challenged by John Piper’s sermon on Romans 12:1-2. I hope that every single one who reads this will download the audio from June 27, 2004, and listen carefully to it.

Piper quotes a guy named Andrew Walls as saying that there are two equally true principles which must be held in tension; he called them “the pilgrim principle” and “the indigenous principle.” The pilgrim principle holds the world, and this life, loosely: I’m ready to go, and you can come with me if you will. The indigenous principle says that the Gospel has something to say to every culture, and we better get ready to contextualize and speak to our culture.

In other words, the gospel can and must become indigenous in every (fallen!) culture in the world. It can and must find a home in the culture. It must fit in. Thatâ??s the indigenous impulse. But at the same time, and just as powerful, the gospel produces a pilgrim mindset. It loosens people from their culture. It criticizes and corrects culture. It turns people into pilgrims and aliens and exiles in their own culture. When Paul says, â??Do not conformed to this world,â? and â??I became all things to all people,â? he is not confused; he is calling for a critical balance of two crucial biblical impulses.

I find that this disctinction helps explain a lot of the contradictions in the Christian life, and it is very dangerous to adopt just one of the two principles. Alone, the pilgrim principle produces wonderful, death-defying missionaries, but with no appreciation for the idea of “common grace” or the link we have with fallen humanity. Alone, the indigenous principle could produce something like mainstream liberal theology, with concern for “the poor” but no concern for their eternal souls. We must have both, somehow.



The Gospel Worthy Of All Acceptation

Andrew Fuller’s classic book of the above title was published in the late 1700’s. Depending on your perspective, it either killed Calvinism or revived it. My perspective is that it revived Calvinism and that it was a legitimate development of the Puritans and the Great Awakening evangelists. Fuller’s friend William Carey was the first Protestant English missionary to foreign lands, and is usually credited with kicking off the modern missions movement.

Fuller’s accomplishment was to provide the theological underpinnings for the new foreign missions, by combating the deadening hypercalvinism/antinomianism that had gripped English Baptist life. Drawing heavily upon the thought of Owen and Edwards, Fuller showed that because it was moral inability, not natural inability, that prevented men and women from receiving the gospel, the gospel was to be preached to all, indiscriminately. This seems so obvious to us now, but there are dear brothers even today who believe that Fuller was the source of all heresy and apostasy and that he perverted the doctrines of salvation.

I believe that Fuller is important and that the doctrines contained in The Gospel Worthy Of All Acceptation are mostly the pure doctrine of Scripture. (Whether Fuller in later life can be charged with any other errors is not in my area of knowledge, and it doesn’t affect my opinion of this book.)

I used to access this book at a site called thebaptistpage.com, now known as baptistpage.org, but it seems to be out of date and broken. So I’ve republished the files on my site here. As far as I know, they are available nowhere else on the web.



Fellowship of Reformed Churches conference

A group based near Ft Worth (actually Glen Rose), called the Fellowship of Reformed Churches, has not only a website, but an annual conference. The information is located here. It looks great! The date is Oct 14 (during the State Fair, yikes) and the location is Southwestern Baptist Seminary. The title of the conference is “Humble Orthodoxy.”



Ralph Erskine’s poems

Wow. How about a Reformed Presbyterian preacher who uses poetry to make fun of, and refute, false doctrine? Such a man was Ralph Erskine (1685-1752). But on the White Horse Inn last week, Michael Horton quoted one of his more mainstream poems, a selection from his Gospel Sonnets entitled “Redemption in Christ.” Here is a selection; the complete poem is in Section II of this page at Reformation Ink.

The second Adam, sov’reign Lord of all,
Did, by his Father’s authorizing call,
From bosom of eternal love descend,
To save the guilty race that him offend;
To treat an everlasting peace with those,
Who were, and ever would have been his foes.
His errand, never-ending life to give
To them, whose malice would not let him live;
To make a match with rebels, and espouse
The brat which at his love her spite avows.
Himself he humbled, to depress her pride,
And make his mortal foe his loving bride.
But, ere there marriage can be solemniz’d,
All lets must be remov’d, all parties pleas’d.
Law-righteousness requir’d, must be procur’d,
Law-vengeance threatned, must be full endur’d,
Stern justice must have credit by the match,
Sweet mercy by the heart the bride must catch.
Poor Bankrupt! all her debt must first be paid,
Her former husband in the grave be laid:
Her present Lover must be at the cost,
To save and ransom to the uttermost.



Flattering Harmony Hill pictures

If you let Everett loose with a camera, you’re bound to get some fun. Here is Kim’s reaction to some of the times Everett wanted to point a camera at her:

On the other hand, when he does catch you unaware, you might not totally like the result. Thus the hand in the face. Here, he catches his Mama from below:

But I love it when he caught his teacher in a great teaching moment:

But sometimes, he hits it just right. Here, he captures two of my favorite people at the lunch table.



New Herbert poems

After several months of nothing, I posted three new George Herbert poems today - Faith, Prayer (1), and Holy Communion. No matter how many years go by, I will never get tired of Herbert.

Excerpts from “Faith”:

I owed thousands and much more:
I did believe that I did nothing owe,
And lived accordingly; my creditor
Believes so too, and lets me go.

If bliss had lien in art or strength,
None but the wise and strong had gained it:
Where now by Faith all arms are of a length;
One size doth all conditions fit.

“Prayer”

Prayer, the Church’s banquet, Angel’s age.
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heaven and earth;

Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tower,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six days’ world-transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;

Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss.
Exalted Manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, men well drest,
The Milky Way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices, something understood.



They’re just more important than you are

The mainstream media, bless their ugly, leftist hearts. The elites who couldn’t care less about your safety, if a terrorist’s safety is in danger. National Review’s website runs a great article today about the kind of people we’re up against.



Good old Baptists

We Southern Baptists still insist that you abstain from the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages.

However, we encourage you to engage, influence, and be salt and light in public schools.

Seems to me it ought to be the reverse.



Peggy Noonan helps clarify the issues

I know I’m beating a drum, but here it is again: The political problems in this country, humanly speaking, are between Washington and the people, not between Demopublicans and Republicrats. See Peggy Noonan’s new article.

I want to clarify that there is no political problem that is not really a heart problem with hearts not connected to Christ. Only one Kingdom is really important, and this isn’t it. But just as it’s sad to see poorly coded software, a badly built building, or an ugly city, it’s even more sad to see a nation being thrown away. As custodians of this earth, we should do better.



Jaroslav Pelikan, R.I.P.

A short post in tribute of one of the great scholars of our time - Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale, preeminent historian of Christian doctrine, Lutheran convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, and one of the great storytellers. Yale’s article is here. His five-volume The Christian Tradition has been a great book to have in my life. It would be nice if people who think The Da Vinci Code was based on scholarship could read something like this instead. Real life is more thrilling anyway than fiction.

Also a belated thank you to my Texas Tech “History of Christian Thought” professor Rev. Arthur Preisinger, now retired from Texas Lutheran University, for introducing me to this magnificent author. You can also read Al Mohler’s tribute to Dr. Pelikan here.

Trivia: If you look closely at the credits for the classic B&W Martin Luther movie from the 50’s, you will see Dr. Pelikan credited as a consultant there.