Thursday, February 26, 2009

President Tennent and the ESV

I was procrastinating the other day, reading blogs, when I came across a blog post on Asbury Seminary's new president, Dr. Timothy Tennent. I was surprised to see that Dr. Tennent was a contributor to the ESV Study Bible, which I got a few months ago, and which I've thoroughly enjoyed using since. Dr. Tennent's contribution was to a section at the back of the Bible called "The Bible and Islam." As soon as I read that blog post I went and grabbed my ESV and read Dr. Tennent's essay. I was quite impressed. I especially liked two things in the essay which seem to hint at Dr. Tennent's classical Arminian theology. In one place Dr. Tennent says that Muslims reject the idea that Christ's death was a "substitute payment for sins." In this quote Dr. Tennent seems to imply that his own view of the atonement is something close to the traditional Arminian view of Penal Substitution. In another quote Dr. Tennent says that Islamic teaching rejects the idea that man is fallen or depraved. As before I think this implies that Dr. Tennent has a strong view of the depravity of man.

Good for Asbury.

P.S. You can win your own Calfskin ESV Study Bible, which retails for $239.99, at A Boomer in the Pew's blog.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: 'tis a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in hell; you hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment...

...And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God; many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are in now an happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him that has loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition?

-Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A god Less Loving?

I was recently discussing with friends some error-ridden sermons we had heard preached by some who would come down on the more theologically-liberal end of the spectrum. One in our group suggested something to the effect that the god who was being preached was "too loving."

But I think any conception of the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as being less loving than some heretic's conception of God is seriously mistaken. The most conservative believer, if he is orthodox, should be able with no problem to affirm what the Holy Spirit tells us in 1st John 4:8 and 4:16, where twice it is repeated "God is love."

The problem, in my view, is not the quantity of God's love. The quantity of real love from the true God is greater than anything that could be conceived of and it is certainly greater than the quantity of love from any heretic's god. The difference, I think, is in the quality or nature of God's love compared to the gods which people make in their own images. The quantity of the true God's love is not lacking in any way but it is an utterly holy and jealous love. It is an intra-Trinitarian love where His glorification is the chief end. But it is also a love that has a greater benefit to those who are being saved than anything we could imagine because it is a love which necessarily entails our beholding, loving and worshipping God for all eternity. It is a love which allows us to do what we were made for, namely to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

So I think that any conservative who can't whole-heartedly embrace John's words, "God is love," is missing the point on the nature of God's love. But liberals are already heretics because they try to interpret away much of what God has revealed about himself and the reality he has created, namely his wrath that was quenched in the death of His Son upon the cross and the eternal hell, which we all deserve, that awaits those who are not in Christ.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Need for Godly Sorrow

Somewhere for each individual who would be saved, there must be a place of repentance, of sorrow for sin, of deep grief and mourning, because of a profound sense of having sinned against a compassionate, patient and merciful God. One of the greatest needs of this nation is a tidal wave of conviction for sin, a godly sorrowing and turning away from wickedness. Somewhere between the present state of those who are in rebellion and sin against God, and a state of salvation, there must be a time and a place for godly sorrow, acceptance of Christ as an only Savior, and a blessed consciousness that sins are forgiven.

-Henry Clay Morrison - Founder of Asbury Theological Seminary (1857-1942)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome President Tennent

Today Asbury Theological Seminary elected Timothy C. Tennent to be the seminary's eighth president. President Tennent is a Methodist who comes from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he was a professor of world missions.

My favorite lines of the seminary's press release were:
Tennent is passionate about classical, orthodox theological education.

"I am alarmed by the growing trend away from serious theological reflection and do not believe that the church will be adequately prepared to face the challenges of pluralism and post-modernism without a more robust theological preparation," he says. "I am also passionate about the emergence of the Majority World Church. I believe that the Western church continues to have an important role in global missions, in partnership with the increasingly vibrant Majority World Church."

It is my hope and prayer that President Tennent will guide Asbury Seminary down a road committed to theological orthodoxy and personal holiness. There are many who would have Asbury compromise in those areas. May he hold strong to Asbury Seminary's original purpose, "to prepare theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled men and women to evangelize and to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world through the love of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God the Father."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mammoth - Best Weekend of Med School

This weekend, after a set of midterm exams, I headed, with four classmates, to Mammoth Mountain ski resort about six hours north of where I go to school in Loma Linda. In Mammoth Lakes we met a sixth person with whom we would snowboard. I enjoyed two amazing days of the best snowboarding I've ever experienced. Some of the friends I went with are very good boarders so they pushed me to the limits of my abilities. The conditions in Mammoth were better than anything I've seen in the three years I've been snowboarding with lots of fresh powder. All who went were also strong Christians so on the way up to Mammoth and on the way back home we listened to John Piper sermons which were also very good. Here are some pictures:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Snow in So-Cal

Loma Linda Hospital with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background. Here are some pictures from when I climbed to the top of those.

Orange orchard with San Gorgonio Mountains in the background. Here are some pictures from when I climbed in those.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Who could meet our case?

Had it been a case of one trespass only, and not of a subsequent corruption, repentance would have been well enough; but when once transgression had begun men came under the power of corruption proper to their nature and were bereft of the grace which belonged to them as creatures in the Image of God. No, repentance could not meet the case. What - or rather Who was it that was needed for such grace and such recall as we required? Who, save the Word of God Himself, Who also in the beginning had made all things out of nothing? His part it was, and His alone, both to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all. For He alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father.
-St. Athanasius, On The Incarnation

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

...and for Him

A classmate and I recently started a Bible study for some kids we tutor in downtown San Bernardino. The first week we talked about why it is that we can trust the Bible to be the Word of God. This last Sunday we talked about the subject of creation. We started out by asking the kids how they thought it had all gotten here and then we dug into Genesis. We first read and discussed Genesis 1:1-5 and then showed a short video attempting to give some idea of the immensity of the universe. We then skipped ahead to Genesis 1:24-31 and talked about what it meant to be made in the "image of God" and what it meant for God to look at all He had made and say that it was "very good."

When we prepared the Bible study the night before we wanted to relate our talk to the Person of Christ and we considered looking at the beginning of the Gospel of John or the section on the Preeminence of Christ in the first chapter of Colossians. We ended up going with just one verse from Colossians, "For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through Him and for Him." Our goal is to preach the Gospel each week so we talked about what it meant that everything, including ourselves, were created for Christ. And one of the first things that one of the kids came up with was that we must do the will of the one for whom we were created. From here we went on to talk about the fact that all of us had failed in doing His will and therefore have a debt which must be paid, the debt that was paid on our behalf by Christ in His crucifixion.

But as so often happens with Bible study, meditating on that little section of the verse, "... and for Him," has affected me strongly the last few days. It puts sin in a much clearer light to be reminded that our entire purpose of existence is for Him. And we go against this purpose when we sin. These are all basic statements of truth for the Christian but meditating on this verse during the last few days has put sin in a clearer light for me.

Another thing I've thought about is that many have a very man-centered view of the universe even in the church. And this verse shows what a lie the "man-centered universe" is. This "man-centered" view came up recently when a method of sharing the gospel was presented which I think was deficient but is something many Christians fall into. In this method of sharing the gospel, a drawing is made with two cliffs with a chasm in between. One side is supposed to represent life without Christ and the other, life with Christ. The thing that bridges this chasm is the cross of Christ. So far so good, but in the presentation the presenter wrote a number of words on the side representing life without Christ, words like "hopelessness," "meaninglessness," etc. And on the side of the chasm, representing life with God, words like "peace," "love," and "direction," were written. I think the problem here is subtle but I think it is a real problem. If we want to get across that chasm to get to "peace, love and direction," then "peace, love and direction," have just become idols. "Peace, love and direction" have just become as evil as any other idol that Satan might set up to keep us from God. Ultimately we were made for God, not for "peace, love and direction." Notice that I said, "ultimately," so I'm not denying that salvation will often bring peace love and direction but at times it will not bring these things. Being in Christ will bring hatred, hatred of sin and it will earn the Christian the hatred of the world. Being in Christ should bring a deep inner peace with God, but superficially it may bring anything but peace with non-Christian family members and friends. And being in Christ may cause us to call into question those things that were once best at giving our lives direction. Things like ambition and competitiveness and the desire to have power over others. So crossing that chasm can just as easily destroy certain kinds of peace, love and direction as it will give us new and real peace, love and direction. The fact is that crossing the chasm from unbelief to being in Christ cannot ultimately be about any of those other things we desire. Ultimately it must be about desiring Him. Ultimately it must be about His glory. It must be ultimately about admitting that we were made, "for Him."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Above All

Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all.

--Saint Augustine
H/T: T19