Dear Mr Andrews
I just want to say that I appreciate you website and twitter account. I had looked on it in the past but only in recent months took more attention to it.
I am after some advice if at all possible. I pastor a small church in England, and also work full-time. I studied a BA in Theology at an independent college. I would like to further my education, but mainly due to time and finances am unable to enrol with a college, university or seminary institute.
Studying myself seems to be my current and only available option. I have seen you list of fantastic resources on iTunes. My only issue with that is my discipline!
Would you have any advice on to structure a self taught study?
I hope you don’t mind me asking!
If everything God does is GOOD, and if God controls EVERYTHING, then it would be BAD had one less child been murdered in Newtown, CT.
This is the argument we find particularly among open theists but I would consider it an important existential question. It primarily focuses on the problem of evil and the hiddenness of God. Here’s the argument in a formal depiction:
- If everything God does is Good [and]
- If God controls everything [by weak and strong actualization]
- Then, it would be bad had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
- It would have been good had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
- Therefore, either not everything God does is good or God does not control everything.
- God is good and everything he does is good.
- Therefore, God does not control everything.
It seems like we are posed with interesting dilemma (at least for the Christian who affirms that God’s means of providence is not exclusively causal, but that he controls all things).
Earlier today I was listening to Dan Barker talk about how he knew that he was a born again Christian. He went to all these church events and was heavily involved with evangelism–all the Christian things Christians do. Well, Dan Barker no longer describes himself as a Christian. He, and many people like him, are very emphatic when they say that they were once Christians and they actually were saved or born again. However, if anyone is going to claim to be an Ex-Christian they’re going to have to say that they never were saved to begin with.
My concern isn’t with the doctrine of preservation or perseverance. (You can read about my position in my post, “Can You Lose Your Salvation? A Molinist’s Perspective.”) This is a different issue, and you’ll see what I mean shortly. What interests me is when individuals who claim to be non-Christian (atheist, agnostic, Muslim, etc.) claim that they were actually Christians prior to apostasy. What are the conditions for being a Christian? Well, there are many conditions such as divine election, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the efficacy of the atonement, etc. Those are all important but what concerns the “apostate” is the sufficient and necessary conditions of believing the truth of the death, burial, resurrection and application of atonement to oneself. When one apostatizes they must commit to the truth that the aforementioned conditions are actually false.
There are three primary categories for virtue the Christian/theist will affirm. The first are the transcendental virtues: truth, beauty, and goodness. The second set is the theological virtues: faith, hope, and love/charity. Then there are the four cardinal virtues: prudence, courage, patience, and justice. It’s my belief that every Christian must practice epistemic humility. What is that? Well, epistemic humility, in the sense I’ll be using it, refers to an application of the four cardinal virtues in the area of epistemology (knowledge). Each of these virtues have a respective vice. For instance, the virtue of moderation would appear as a vice in addiction.
The virtue of epistemic prudence is know when and how to appropriate your knowledge to others. Have you ever noticed that person in class or in church that seems to be the ‘know-it-all,’ whether they actually are or not? Of course, it’s worse when they’re simply ignorant of what they’re talking about, but not only is this person annoying but there may be several issues rooted in the flaunting of knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with sharing you’re knowledge but, like I said, it’s how and when you share it.
Theologian: Constantine (AD 227-337)
General summary of Constantine and his theology: *I’m aware that Constantine isn’t a theologian per se but does have a huge impact on early church history and theology, which is worth noting.* From the time that his father died (306) until Constantine challenged Maxentius at Milvian bridge (312), he was consolidating his position of power in Gaul and Britain. Even at this early date he showed the same military and political acumen that he would later exhibit as emperor: He strengthened his defenses against the barbarians along the Rhine, winning the gratitude of his French subjects. He did not impose onerous taxes on the people, and entertained the bloodthirsty among them with frequent shows in the circuses He was deft in diplomacy and military strategy. Above all, he was a patient man, not playing his hand until the time was right.
Theology Thursday is a new feature on the blog, which gives a brief introduction to a theological person of significance.
General summary of his theology: Barth has made man contributions to Christian theology. In this post I’ll discuss general theological ideas in Barth’s thought.
If the word of God the task of theology then there is a problem: of all disciplines theology alone is confronted with an unanswerable question [for us]–What is before birth and after death?. The question that my finite self overcomes nihilism. Theology, whether preaching or teaching, the theological task is impossible but necessary because the question must arise in we existing human beings; and so, theology as the human speaking the word of God as God’s own speaking cannot be done; therefore, No. Yet, theology, in seeking to speak the word of God, to human finitude and human need must be done. In recognizing that theology cannot be done and cannot answer the question while still pursuing and seeking after the answer is to do two things: glorify God and may open the field (when God allows it) to the possibility that an answer may come from God to existing human beings. No human being, though, can say or speak absolutely and unambiguously the word of God as God’s own speaking. Therefore, any true word of God that comes through our human speech is again still NO and YES, YES and NO, because it both is and is not the word of God.
Purity in Ministry: Biblical Principles
- Leaders are held to a higher standard (James 3:1)
- I Tim 4.12- youth (thirty something)
- II Tim- youth (teenage)
- Ecc. 8.11- why we still sin (because He doesn’t drop the hammer doesn’t mean He won’t)
- Eph. 4:17
- Process of Church discipline—Matt. 18.15-17 (transcending fifth step of judgment on a leader) –group rebuke to safeguard your own self—vv18-20 (controversial) God confirms His support of spiritual Church Leaders who make difficult spiritual decisions!
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The following is a guest blog post by Bryan Raszinski. Bryan is a Religion undergraduate at Liberty University.
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.” (Ephesians 5:22-30, NASB)
Going back and forth the last few years to college and then home has definitely changed the way I see things and what it takes to be a man of the gospel ; a man who, on a daily basis, declares he is going to take up his cross and follow Jesus no matter the cost. I have also learned a lot about marriage in its self and going back and forth have seen two parts that I think need to be addressed because, for the most, one or the other is given the priority and the one that is not given priority seems to be ignored (this is not the case for every single couple getting engaged to be married I am sure but the trend seems that most are this way). At school I see the practical readiness of marriage set while the theological readiness seems to take a seat it should not and at home I see the exact opposite the theological readiness takes the priority and the practical readiness takes the seat. Both are essential before tying the knot and while no couple is ever completely ready to be married and knows how everything will go, the important thing remains that in order to even get engaged these two things need to be settled and discussed so both the future husband and wife know what the other expects from them.
Guest Post by Bryan Raszinski
The wrath of God is a truth that is rarely taught or proclaimed within the Church these days. The Church seems to display greatly the love of our God, the mercy of our God, and the grace of our God…but when His wrath is brought up we just shut down and move forward like it is nothing of any theological importance. J.I. Packer recognizes this problem and says:
“To an age which has unashamedly sold itself to the gods of greed, pride, sex and self-will, the church mumbles on about God’s kindness but says virtually nothing about his judgment…The fact is that the subject of divine wrath has become taboo in modern society, and Christians by and large have accepted the taboo and conditioned themselves never to raise the matter…One of the most striking things about the Bible is the vigor with which both Testaments emphasize the reality and terror of God’s wrath.”
The Bible is clear that the wrath of God plays an important role not only in the life of an unbeliever but also in the life of a believer; Israel and the other Gentile nations.
In Exodus 3:20 it reads: “So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.” One theological implication of this text is divine justice. Moses was just commissioned to go before Pharaoh by YHWH and demand the release of his people. This is the promise YHWH gives Moses as a sign that Moses is not alone in this deliverance. Israel is being delivered and redeemed back into the land they are supposed to dwell in as was authorized by the Lord back in the Genesis account. YHWH is going to strike the Egyptian nation with His wonders and miracles and as the Exodus account continues it becomes clear that His wonders are divine judgments that go against the 10 major gods of the Egyptians as well as play a part in showing the glory of His power and His name to the nation of Egypt and use this as an example for other nations to see. His wrath on the Egyptians was divine deliverance for His people the Israelites.
As we move in the New Testament, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians gives important implications of the wrath of God. We read in Ephesians 2:1-3-“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to thecourse of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:1-10 is a popular passage when it comes to sharing the gospel and for good reasons. The first three verses serve as a reminder of the state we were in prior to believing in the Lord and acknowledging Him as Lord. They place us in a place that is often not spoken of…a place we refuse to realize we were in in the first place before being saved and transferred from kingdom to another (Col. 1:13-14). We were devil worshipers and by our very nature a stench that repelled us from our Lord. We were sons of disobedience and walked by the flesh. We were children of wrath. Paul is very clear that before verses 4-10 occurred we were not in a neutral spot ready and prepared to say yes to the Lord whenever we deemed it necessary. We were naturally against the Lord and our minds and bodies were embodied in the chains of sin and depravity. We understand verses 4-10. We tend to only read that section and then move on from that passage praising the Lord for His grace…but do we know why we are praising His grace? Do we understand the full extent of where our sin had us and what He did for us?
The wrath of God gives us this ability. We as believers and co-workers of Christ can rejoice in the wrath of God because of the grace that has covered us for our sins in the past, sin we commit now, and sin we will commit in the future. Believers should not ignore the truth that the wrath of God has ingrained in it. There are two places in eternity- Heaven and Hell. For His children who will reside with Him in heaven we are able to rejoice in both the grace of God and wrath of God for the grace of God, given to us by the act of propitiation that Christ performed on the cross, has covered us and made us holy and above reproach. We can rejoice in the wrath of God because we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord always no matter what (Phil. 4:4) and because the wrath of God gives us deliverance from the sin of the world and separates us from the imperfections and distortions that sin has committed. It is the wrath of God that will eventually eradicate sin and temptation from the world and give us an imperishable place of residence free from such heavy chains (1 Corinthians 15:50-57) and allow us to be able to be what we were originally meant to be- the perfect and holy image of God.
One of my professors mentioned this concept in class and I wanted to expound on it. When you say “I love you” to your boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé[e], or spouse the profundity behind that declaration is incredible. So, if my beautiful wife asks, “Why do you love me?” what do I say? Well, I give her my reasons of course… but at what point do I originate my reasons? Yes, God has orchestrated the world that it be this way but what factors are involved in God’s providential molding?
I believe the question of love ultimately comes down to the individual’s agency, their free desire and choice to love. If all my reasons to love are external then that would seem to imply that there could be external reasons for me to stop loving. Here’s a few examples. I love my fiancée because:
- She has a beautiful smile.
- She is fun.
- She has gorgeous eyes.
- Her personality complements mine.
- She is kind and gentle.
- We had memorable moments.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but I chose features and examples that a lot of people will say up front. All of these are external features and reasons. What if these change and
- She is in a car accident and loses all of her teeth and half of a jaw.
- She stops enjoying the same things as you.
- She has glass eyes or loses her eyes due to a medical condition or accident.
- She gets diagnosed with a condition that affects her personality and becomes violent or emotionally absent.
- She becomes violent.
- The recent bad times outweigh the good times.
If all my reasons for loving are countered would I still love? You may be able to see the issue here. I imagine everyone is saying, “Yes, of course I would still love!” But the question is, “Why?” I love my fiancée because I choose to love her. I may be completely content with adding external reasons (which normally are what attracts in the first place), but I love her because I choose to love her. So, if Leah were to ask me, “Why do you love me?” it would come down to, “Because I do.” Resting a series of cause and effect relationships (reasons for love) within a personal and free agency is a perfectly adequate explanation and stopping point. An agent is the only point at which a series of cause and effect relationships can begin. Yes, I could refrain from choosing to love, but being consistent, it wouldn’t be because of her. It’s my love for her and that’s what makes it so valuable.
Perhaps this may assist you in understanding God’s love for us. There’s nothing that we do to warrant God’s love because if there ever could be a reason, we messed it up. God loves us because he chooses to love us. God isn’t self-determined to love us, it’s an expression of his own freedom and desire to love. God is under no obligation to love us. He doesn’t owe us anything. Remember, he did not have to create anything at all. This also follows that there’s nothing that we can do to change God’s love for us. We can never be too dirty or evil that will cease the divine flow of love over us. So next time you say “I love you” to someone keep this in mind.