November2012Archive for

Ask RC: What is Sonship theology?

Ask R.C.

Sonship theology is a set of biblical notions originally propagated by Jack Miller, a former missionary and pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America (former because Jack has gone on to his reward.) The ideas were first spread through a Bible study, then through a Presbyterian missions agency. The central theme, as evidenced in the title, is that we must come to understand that we are not only justified, but that we are adopted.  It begins with an assumption that while our lips may affirm we are justified by faith alone, our Pelagian hearts are given to thinking that God is happy with us when we do well in our walk, unhappy with us when we do not do as well. It encourages us to enter fully into our union with Christ. Among the common slogans birthed in this movement are these- “Relax!. You’re much worse than you think.” And…

First Church of the Not So Bad

The Kingdom Notes

We are adepts not at fighting our sins but hiding them. We gather each Lord’s Day dressed in our smiles, share our praise reports and our health concerns, pat ourselves on our backs, and return home to our gross and heinous sins.  We miss this in part because we are preternaturally positive about ourselves. We are willing to confess that there are some weak churches out there, somewhere down the road. There are destructive schools out there, but ours is one of the good ones. There are broken families out there, but ours is, as far as anyone can tell, a model of grace and peace. There are deluded sinners out there, but I thank you Lord I am not like them. We are more than willing, individually and corporately to cop to the respectable sins. Maybe college football or NASCAR is something of an idol to us, but it’s…

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Shannon

The Kingdom Notes

It was always my contention, living with a special needs daughter who could be called home at any time, that it was not her health issues that determined when should go, but my spiritual health issues. When each seizure forced me to face her fragility, when each morning I checked first to see if she were breathing before trying to wake her, I comforted myself with this thought- God will not call Shannon home until Shannon is through with me. It was apparent rather early on in her life that she had a peculiar calling, that she was less the child I needed to teach, and more the child that needed to teach me. I was the student, she the master. My mistake was in thinking that her being done with me and her home going would coincide. She is gone, but she is not done with me. She is…

Ask RC: What’s the most important economic lesson Americans need to learn?

Ask R.C.

There are any number of appropriate ways to answer this question. I have for years now affirmed that the most foundational economic truth is that God owns everything. We need to learn that, down to our toes. I have also affirmed that the first law of economics is that consuming more than we produce leads to poverty, consuming less than we produce leads to prosperity. Grasping these truths would go rather a long way in fixing what ails us, economically speaking. Having barely survived another election season, however, and mourning the end of Twinkies, I’m tempted instead to start with this lesson- governments cannot create any wealth, though they can and usually do destroy wealth. On both sides of the aisle we had voters demanding and candidates promising more jobs, better health care, rising home values. Government, however, is a parasitic institution rather than a productive one. That is, the…

Talking to Our Teddy Bears

The Kingdom Notes

It has been, from time to time, rather lonely for me, holding with passion a number of convictions that are positively wing-batty not just to the world but to the broad evangelical church. I believe children are a blessing from God’s hand. I believe a man cannot rightly raise his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord if he leaves them, seven hours a day, 180 days a year with those who cannot affirm His Lordship. I oppose socialized education, medicine, and retirement. I believe God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, and that the children of believers should be given the mark of the covenant. All of which makes me a rather weird duck. On the interwebs, however, it is possible for ducks of a feather to fish together. Most of you reading this buy into at least one of my quirky views, and a few of you…

Neither Were They Grateful

The Kingdom Notes

It is a sure sign that we are sinners that we tend to be more concerned about what we do than what we are. That is, our guilt or peace oftentimes is the fruit of our own judgment of how often we commit a known sin, less often grounded in what we think and how we feel. I may hate my brother, but if I can keep myself from killing him, well, how bad could I be? In Romans 1 Paul is setting about the business of explaining the universal guilt of men before God. There he answers the telling question, what about the innocent native in Africa who knows nothing of Christ by affirming that all men everywhere both know who God is, and reject that knowledge. Before we have done anything we stand guilty, if only because our eyes tell us there is a God and our hearts…

Ask RC: Now that President Obama was re-elected, what should we do?

Ask R.C.

The church, after President Obama’s re-election, finds itself in serious trouble. Part of the good news is that at least she is beginning to recognize the trouble she is in. One wonders how many Christians would have been dancing in the aisles had the election turned out differently, and if we would have actually been in appreciably less trouble. During previous moments of mass fear within the church I have been asked what we’re supposed to do. When the housing implosion looked set to topple the entire economic house of cards under President Bush, when President Obama started racking upWeimerRepublicsized debts, and now again my counsel has remained the same. Yes, by all means we are to discern the times. Having done so, however, we find that what God calls us to do is what He calls us to do in all times. Fearful of the economy? Spend less then…

Fame

The Kingdom Notes

Christianity Today magazine recently published, as its cover story, a list of fifty women to watch. There were names I would have put there, women like Elizabeth Elliot who have for decades faithfully taught young women to love their husbands and their children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands (Titus 2:4). There were other names on the list that I would watch as well, in much the same way that I would watch the fox slinking up to my chicken pen, women who teach other women precisely the opposite of the above. The online venue where I read this list asked its readers to make any suggestions for names to add to the list. I immediately thought of two- Denise and Shannon Sproul. They were not, in the sense that Christianity Today meant, up and comers. Denise’s book was never on a…

Doing Theology Proper(ly)

The Kingdom Notes

God bless the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I cut my own theological teeth going through G.I. Williamson’s find study guide on the catechism. I have helped my children to memorize it. I have taught through the catechism at least three times in the last fifteen years. I believe it, confess it, and learn from it. But, I have a bone to pick with it. Question four asks, “What is God?” It answers, “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being wisdom, power, holiness, goodness, justice and truth.” All true, gloriously true. But first, my problem with the question. Why, I have to wonder, does it not instead ask, “Who is God?”? I am willing to grant their may be some grammatical reason for the distinction. I suspect, however, that the answer is revealed in the answer. When we ask what God is, we are already looking at Him…

Ask RC: Is it wrong for a Christian to get a tattoo?

Ask R.C.

I don’t know. This text seems to settle the matter- “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD,” Leviticus 19:28. The anti-tattoo party is likely to pitch their tent here, perhaps wisely so. The pro-tattoo party, however, will object that this is either a. in the Old Testament and therefore invalid or b. ceremonial law, and therefore invalid. I have little respect for the first objection as it divides the Word of God. It is true enough that the God we serve has changed His law on occasion. It is also true, however, that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. If an Old Testament law not being repeated in the New Testament means it is no longer binding then that perversion known as bestiality must be acceptable for the Christian. What then of the…