Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Review: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism

Book Review by Gary Gilley: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism by Michael John Beasley, (The Armory Ministries: 2013), e-book available from Amazon.

9781935358138 _cov2RGBSMALLIt has been well over two decades since Wayne Grudem wrote his ground breaking book, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, which attempted to give theological legitimacy to common practices found especially in Pentecostal and charismatic circles. Those practices had to do with the so-called “sign gifts” of miracles, healings, tongues and prophecy. Grudem’s burden focused almost entirely on prophecy and words of knowledge. Pentecostals and charismatics have long claimed extrabiblical words, visions and prophecies that came via direct communication from the Holy Spirit. But it was common knowledge that many, if not most, of those supposed revelations were inaccurate in whole or in part. The Old Testament had condemned fallible prophets to death (Deut 13, 18) so obviously this was a serious issue to God. If this seriousness was carried over to the New Testament era what was to be done with those who claimed prophecies from God but were in error? In 1 Corinthians 14, even during a time in which all agree direct prophecy from God was being given to some, especially the apostles, Paul called on the church to evaluate these prophets and expose them if they were prophesying falsely. The death penalty was not carried forward from the old covenant, but rebuke and even church discipline would be in order for those who continued such practices.

Charismatic theologians, such as Grudem and others desirous of being faithful to Scripture had the difficult task of trying to harmonize the practices of modern day prophecies that were fluent in their church tradition, or expose them as unbiblical. Most charismatics have admitted that their supposed revelations were often inaccurate. At best they were a mixture of “a word from the Lord” and the imagination of the prophet. How could such practices harmonize with Scripture? Grudem labored to show, both in his The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today and in his popular Systematic Theology, that New Testament prophecy differs from Old Testament prophecy. He believes that the New Testament prophets, but not the apostles, were fallible and often partially inaccurate in almost all revelations from God. Grudem attempts to prove his thesis from the Scriptures themselves, principally through the example of Agabus in Acts and the epistle of 1 Corinthians, especially chapter 14. While The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism is at least the fifth important work refuting Grudem’s theory, his views have nevertheless been embraced in a wide range of evangelical, non-charismatic camps. Of recent note is a new breed of those holding to Reformed theology but also accepting the charismatic gifts, including prophecy. Often called New Calvinists, or Neo-Calvinists, these individuals have combined a seriousness concerning Scripture and theology with a Pentecostal understanding of sign gifts. These continuationists (prophecy and sign gifts continue throughout the church age) believe they now have the best of both worlds—a solid grounding in the Word of God and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. But not only have the New Calvinists misrepresented those holding to cessationism (that prophecy and other sign gifts have ceased) they have seemingly misunderstood what the Scriptures teach concerning the purpose and duration of the sign gifts. It is the goal of Michael Beasley to provide careful biblical analysis of the Neo-Calvinists’ views and show that they lack scriptural support.

Since Grudem is the Neo-Calvinist theologian leading the charge in attempting to develop and defend the position of fallible prophecy, Beasley primarily interacts with his writings. There are already four valuable critiques of Grudem’s position: Robert Thomas, “Prophecy Rediscovered? A Review of the Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today” found in Bibliotheca Sacra Vol. 149 (1992), pp. 82-96; Thomas Edgar, Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit (1996); F. David Farnell, “Fallible New Testament Prophecy/Prophets?”; A Critique of Wayne Grudem’s Hypothesis” (Master’s Seminary Journal, Fall 1996) and R. Bruce Compton, “The Continuation of New Testament Prophecy and a Closed Canon: A Critique of Wayne Grudem’s Two Levels of New Testament Prophecy” (Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary). Beasley attempts to supplement rather than duplicate these works. After dealing with the biblical understanding of prophecy in chapter one, Beasley critiques Grudem’s three key arguments for the continuationist’s position. First, in the second chapter the author takes a careful look at Grudem’s definition of prophecy as derived from the lexicons. Beasley documents Grudem’s selective lexical examination and determines that Grudem has skipped over the clear biblical definition and chose instead to use pagan meanings for the word prophet (pp. 49-56). Beasley then offers very helpful examples of how such methods would affect our understanding of other words, such as theos (God) and dikaios (righteousness) (pp. 52-56).

Beasley then turns to Grudem’s most powerful argument, the supposed fallible prophecy by the New Testament prophet Agabus. Beasley challenges Grudem’s understanding of Agabus in the entirety of chapter three. There are three powerful arguments against Grudem’s views that Agabus gave a partially false prophecy to Paul:

1. Contrary to Grudem, Paul was in fact delivered over to his captors despite the will of the Jewish mob.

2. Contrary to Grudem, Paul was delivered over to his captors by legal compulsion.

3. Apparently unknown by Grudem, Paul was willingly delivered over by the Jews in the face of Roman jurisprudence (p. 92).

Since others have addressed the first two possibilities, Beasley chooses to advance the third. His carefully presented argument leads to the conclusion that Grudem is reasoning from both ignorance of New Testament times, as well as from silence. Grudem simply cannot prove his case against Agabus. And since Agabus is the only New Testament prophet that we are aware of who may have given anything resembling a fallible prophecy, Grudem’s position loses much of its punch if his theory about Agabus is wrong or even improvable.

Grudem’s final evidence for fallible prophecy is grounded in the gift of prophecy as found in the church at Corinth. Grudem believes, based on 1 Corinthians 14, that New Testament prophecy is fallible/nonauthoritative and extremely common (pp. 129-130). If the church at Corinth was called upon to evaluate the prophecies of its members, then apparently those prophecies cannot be wholly of God and without flaw, so Grudem reasons. Beasley believes Grudem is missing the corrective context of the epistle to the Corinthians, as well as the inseparable link between Old Testament and New Testament prophecy. Since in the New Testament there is no clear, distinct statement regarding a difference between Old and New Testament prophecy, there exists no warrant to view the prophetic gift at Corinth any differently from how we would view prophecy under the Old Covenant. With that in mind Beasley makes a case for Paul calling for testing of the prophets themselves not the prophecies at Corinth. If the revelations being given in that church were not completely true it was a sign that the prophets themselves were false—just as in the Old Testament (pp. 147-160). After all, Peter is clear that no prophecy comes from the will of man but from God (2 Pet 1:21). Scripture clearly designates two classes of prophets—true and false. A third class has been invented by the Charismatic/continuationist community, and circulated widely by many New Calvinists—fallible prophecy which contains elements of both truth and error. Such a category is nothing less than human contrivance (p. 164).

Beasley ends his book with a powerful conclusion. In particular he quotes John Piper’s defense of fallible prophecy (pp. 175-176), then allows Piper to discredit the whole system (pp. 177-178). Here Piper, who encourages his church to seek the sign gifts, receives a prophecy about his family from a woman in his church. Not wishing to discourage prophecies he prays about it. The prophecy claimed his wife would give birth to a girl and die in the process. Several months later she bore a boy and was completely healthy. This was a false prophecy in every detail except that Piper’s wife was pregnant. This again begs the question—of what value is fallible prophecy? How could anyone determine which parts were of God and which of the mistaken imagination of the so-called prophet? Not only does fallible prophecy have no real value, it is dangerous and can lead the gullible to take very unfortunate actions. In addition, there simply is not a good case in Scripture to prove the claim that New Testament prophecy differs from that in the Old Testament.

Beasley has done the church a wonderful service by producing this volume. My hope is that many will read it and absorb its contents. Presently it is available only as an e-book from Amazon.

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel

Published with permission.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Miracle of Humility and Thanksgiving

For the past several years the article, “Happy Humiliation Day,” has been reposted here at The Armoury in consideration of our national holiday: Thanksgiving Day. What is so compelling about our forefathers’ inauguration of Thanksgiving Day is the fact that it was all started with another day – a day of prayer and humiliation, as William Bradford recounts: “…they set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress…” If you have read the above article then you know that the settlers at Plymouth Plantation were enduring a great famine in the land such that many were suffering and dying from hunger and fatigue. In utter dependency upon the Lord, the people set aside a day of prayer and humiliation seeking the Lord’s provision of rain and a fruitful season, which the Lord supplied in abundance. In response to this, as Bradford recounts, “…they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.” What is so beautiful and haunting about this story is the word also. You see, their day of thanksgiving did not stand alone, but rested on the former day: the day of prayer and humiliation.

I would suggest to the reader that there is an ocean of truth supplied in such an example.

The subject of thankfulness is quite remarkable, especially when we consider the fact that fallen men do not “honor Him as God or give thanks…” (Romans 1:21). Paul’s important description of the pride, arrogance, and ingratitude of mankind reveals an important truth: the expression of genuine thankfulness to God is a miracle of divine grace and cannot be generated or feigned by the unbeliever, after all, without genuine humility there can be no genuine thankfulness. This principle which was understood and exemplified by our puritan forefathers is one that is desperately needed in our own day.

For myself, it helps me to remember that when my thankfulness to God shrinks in any measure, it is because of swelling pride. Yet, when humility waxes hot so does genuine thankfulness. The pairing of these attitudes is crucial for us all. As believers, we must remember these truths as we express thankfulness to God, whether it is a national holiday, or any other day of the year.

I would like to add one more note in view of what has been shared. Let us take time this day to pray earnestly for our nation and for its leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Those who reject Christ may celebrate Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday, but without the Redeemer’s redemption and forgiveness, they do so as the objects of His wrath (John 3:36). Amidst all of our political problems within our nation, we must never allow a disquieted spirit to rule our hearts, thereby quenching our petitions for those who merely feign thanksgiving without genuine hope and joy in Christ (Ephesians 2:12).

With humility and thanksgiving, let us cry out to Him who gives true hope and everlasting joy to everyone who comes to Him in faith.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism

Today is the last day for amazon.com’s free offer of The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism on the Kindle book format (link).

9781935358138 _cov2RGBSMALLFrom the website: This book examines Dr. Wayne Grudem's controversial teaching on fallible prophecy in view of various lexical, exegetical, and historical points of analysis. It also addresses the teaching's popularity and continuing advancement through many charismatics within the "New Calvinism" movement. The doctrine of fallible prophecy is neither benign nor harmless, rather it constitutes a troubling strange fire for the body of Christ and continues to spread through the advocacy of popular continuationists like Wayne Grudem, D.A. Carson, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll:

1. Chapter 1: Prophecy – A Test of Love: According to the proponents of fallible prophecy, the presence of error in a prophetic utterance does not make such claimants of the prophetic gift false prophets, it only means that they are New Testament fallible prophets by definition. This constitutes a complete reversal of meaning of prophecy which results in a confused message concerning the nature and character of the God who has consistently and effectually revealed Himself through His appointed messengers. Moreover, such a redaction of prophecy effectively confuses, and nearly eliminates, the scripturally prescribed tests for prophecy. The importance of this must not be underestimated, for all of the tests of prophecy, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, have an unimpeachable centerpiece: the love of God.

2. Chapter 2: Fallible prophecy – Lexical Considerations: Grudem argues that the New Testament connotation of the word prophet no longer possessed the sense of authority it once had. Thus, Christ did not call his disciples prophets because “…the Greek word prophetes (‘prophet’) at the time of the New Testament…did not have the sense ‘one who speaks God’s very words’.” In view of Grudem’s emphasis on this point, it will be very important for us to examine his lexical justification for such a conclusion.

3. Chapter 3: Fallible prophecy – The Case of Agabus: Grudem argues that genuine NT prophets could be resisted in view of their fallibility based upon texts like 1 Cor. 14:29. In support of this view, Grudem supplies examples of what he believes are NT fallible prophets, the most central of which is Agabus. Like Grudem, D.A. Carson insists that Agabus’ prophecy was fraught with error, saying, "I can think of no reported Old Testament prophet whose prophecies are so wrong on the details." This is a very serious accusation requiring a thorough investigation.

4. Chapter 4: Fallible prophecy – A Gift for All?: Grudem argues that, unlike the unique gift of prophecy given in the time of the OT, the NT gift of prophecy was extremely common and functioned “in thousands of ordinary Christians in hundreds of local churches at the time of the New Testament.” He also argues that neither grave error nor immaturity should serve as a barrier to the pursuit and exercise of such a gift by nearly everyone within the local church. Such thinking is a tragedy for the body of Christ which is called to holiness and truth in all aspects of life and servitude.

5. Conclusion: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism: Believing in the value and efficacy of fallible prophecy, a growing number of popular pastors and teachers are now openly promoting such teaching. Particularly within the increasingly popular New Calvinism movement we find a growing number of advocates of fallible prophecy. To facilitate the spread of this doctrine, Grudem himself supplies a 6-point strategy for establishing fallible prophecy within the local church. This poses an increasing danger of the tolerance and proliferation of false prophets within the church.

Friday, August 09, 2013

The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism, Chapter III: The Troubling Example of Agabus

The Book: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism: An Analysis, Critique, and Exhortation Concerning Wayne Grudem’s Teaching on “Fallible Prophecy”, is available here.

Table of Contents:   9781935358138 _covRGBFLAT

Introduction: A Primer to Prophecy  

Chapter I: Prophecy - A Test of Love

Chapter II: Fallible Prophecy – Lexical Concerns

Chapter III: Fallible Prophecy – The Case of Agabus 

Chapter IV: Fallible Prophecy – A Gift for All?

Conclusion: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism

 

Chapter III addresses the important subject of Agabus’ prophecy. Only in Agabus do we have Luke describing a prophet who delivers a prophecy. The advocates of fallible prophecy argue that Agabus was in error when he uttered his prophecy (Acts 21:11). His is considered a central example for fallible prophecy seeing that Agabus purportedly prophesied an admixture of truth and error. What is interesting about Agabus’ prophecy is that it is quite simple in its construct, yet the question of fulfillment is much more complex. According to Grudem and others, Agabus was right about Paul being arrested in Jerusalem, yet wrong about the manner in which this would take place:

“He would have the general idea correct (Paul would be imprisoned at Jerusalem), but the details somewhat wrong.”[1]

“Agabus’ prophecies of “…‘binding’ and ‘giving over’ by the Jews—are explicitly falsified by the subsequent narrative”[2]

D.A. Carson is more direct in his accusations of the New Testament prophet:

"I can think of no reported Old Testament prophet whose prophecies are so wrong on the details."[3]

Yet, is it really true that Agabus was in error and are we to assume that the New Testament church has missed these “errors” for centuries? In order to scrutinize the question of his prophecy’s fulfillment (or lack thereof), we will need to examine a great span of passages, specifically Acts 21:11-23:22. Additionally, there are corroborating passages that we will also need to consult in Acts chapters 24-26 and 28. In light of the sheer volume of requisite texts for this subject, it is no surprise that Agabus’ example is not a simple one.

Remarkably Grudem’s approach to Agabus is one which rests almost entirely on the historical narrative of Acts 21:27-36. Without the full force of Acts 21:11-23:22, Grudem’s analysis proves to be desperately inadequate.  


[1] Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy, p. 81.

[2] Ibid., p. 80.

[3] Ibid.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

May God Have Mercy on America

255951-us-justice-gay-marriage

Here in America the expression, God bless America, has become such a common utterance in presidential speeches that it now seems like a cheap tag line with little meaning. I say this because God has blessed this nation, in abundance, yet sadly America has progressively forsaken those blessings, while blaspheming the God of such blessings year after year. Over my lifetime I have witnessed a tremendous change within America’s culture, and the downgrade only seems to accelerate with time. The most recent forensics of this comes to us through the redefinition of marriage posited by Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Writing for the majority opinion, in defense of same-sex marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy criticized elements of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), indicating that those who oppose homosexuality resultantly “injure” and “demean” the “moral and sexual choices” of same-sex couples. What was so striking about this decision was that the court went well beyond rendering a judgment against DOMA. In essence, it vilified all those who oppose gay marriage. Thus, this is much more than a “victory” for those who support gay marriage, it is a broad and open door to the future persecution of all those who choose to oppose homosexuality. In view of this I must say that, before petitioning God for blessings, America should repent of her multiple sins and cry out for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Like rebellious Israel, our nation is destroyed for a lack of knowledge.[1]

Though not surprising, the SCOTUS decision reveals America’s continued descent into darkness. The revelation of this new ruling proved to be grievous for the disciples of Christ, but for everyone else, it was a day of celebration:

The National Cathedral: Following the ruling of SCOTUS regarding DOMA and Proposition 8, The National Cathedral in Washington DC rang its church bells in celebration for 45 minutes to an hour.

The Governor of Connecticut: In response to the STOTUS decisions regarding DOMA and proposition 8, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy flew a rainbow flag outside the Governor’s official residence – revealing a profound change since Connecticut’s beginning.[2]

President Obama: The President quickly weighed on this judgment, declaring the following: “I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal — and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

What the president suppresses and denies[3] (along with most Americans) is that the love found within the institution which “God has joined together”[4] is in no way equal to the hedonistic lust of pornea (sexual immorality) so commonly found within this fallen world. Moreover, though it is true that the presidents and judges of this nation can decree, by law, such a notion of equality, the Supreme Judge of all laughs at such foolishness and rebellion.[5] Sadly, America continues in a downward spiral, but such truth ought to drive the church to more earnest prayer, asking the God of all mercy and grace for the blessing of repentance and spiritual awakening. This we must continue to do, knowing that no piece of legislation, no judicial ruling, and no executive order can turn the hearts of men and women away from their enmity with God. Only the Gospel, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can turn and awaken those who remain dead in their trespasses and sins.[6] We must also pray for “kings and for all those in authority so that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life, with all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:1-6). In relation to this latter point, I am concerned that the believer’s Gospel freedoms here in America continue to be weakened, and the recent decision by SCOTUS will further accelerate this trend. As mentioned earlier, SCOTUS did more than make a judgment in favor of homosexuality, it made a judgment of those who oppose such conduct. A plain reading of Kennedy’s majority opinion reveals this. Justice Antonin Scalia offered an ominous summary of the majority’s opinion on this ruling, offering a Latin expression that is strikingly familiar to a familiar one from ancient church history:

Justice Antonin Scalia: “To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to ‘dis- parage,’ ‘injure,’ ‘degrade,’ ‘demean,’ and ‘humiliate’ our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homo-sexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence— indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.”[7]

Having read through Kennedy’s majority opinion on the SCOTUS ruling, I can attest that Scalia’s above summary is spot-on. Though the terms “disparage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” are broadly scattered throughout the court’s published opinion, the retributive force of these words is still quite stunning. Scalia’s observations are quite interesting, if not ironic, especially when he invoked the expression, hostes humani generis – enemies of the human race. When I read this, my thoughts were brought back to the writings of Tacitus who described the nature of Nero’s persecution of the Christian community within the 1st century:

Tacitus: "But neither human resources, nor imperial munificence, nor appeasement of the gods, eliminated sinister suspicions that the fire had been instigated. To suppress this rumour, Nero fabricated scapegoats – and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of this temporary setback the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judaea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome. All degraded and shameful practices collect and flourish in the capital. First, Nero had self-acknowledged Christians arrested. Then, on their information, large numbers of others were condemned - not so much for incendiarism as for their hatred of humanity (odio humani generis).[8] Their deaths were made farcical. Dressed in wild animals' skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight."[9]

Tacitus’ description of the Christian community reminds us of the degrading opinions that developed within the Greco-Roman world: Christians were the haters of humanity. The most likely explanation for this label is that the Christian community was unwilling, for conscience’ sake, to participate in the hedonistic and idolatrous culture of the Greco-Roman world, replete with its sacrifices to the gods and licentious living. Such non-participation was seen as an act of hostility against others, especially since the superstitious and pagan world believed that sacrifices to the gods were necessary for the greater good of the broader community. Because of such non-participation, Christians were ridiculed as the haters of humanity among other things. I would suggest that Scalia’s summary of Kennedy’s opinion offers a historically packed preview of what may come in the future. Apart from God’s merciful and gracious intervention in America’s moral and spiritual suicide, further darkness will prevail in this land. My mention of this is not designed to be morose, but to emphasize the continued need to look to the Gospel for genuine light in this dark world. Too often the modern church has sought ways to nurture friendship with the world, but this has only led to compromise and corruption.[10] This could be a means by which the Lord will purify and strengthen His true church here in America. Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers regarding the darkness of their own world (Eph 5:8-11), in order to enjoin them to a more diligent walk (Eph 5:2, 8, 15) as the children of light (Eph 5:8). Contextually and grammatically he continues his appeal by commanding the Ephesians to avoid foolishness while pursuing the will of the Lord (Eph 5:17), refraining from drunkenness while being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18). Paul then describes what such Spirit-filled living looks like in the children of God: speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be[ing] subject to one another in the fear of Christ (Eph 5:19-21). The verse division between verse 21 and 22 may lead the reader to think that Paul has ceased his description of Spirit-filled living – but this is not the case. Paul’s expansion of this important subject only continues as he describes the beauty of a Spirit-filled marriage, which reflects the glory of Christ and His union with His bride, the church (Eph 5:22-33); and we must not forget that this extends further to a description of a godly family, complete with a father, mother, and children (Eph 6:1-4) who seek to honor the Lord in everything. Yes, Ephesus was engulfed in darkness – but this reality afforded Paul the opportunity to remind genuine believers that their solution was not to dim the light of the Gospel, but to make it radiate more brightly in their individual lives, as well as in their marriages, and families.

Dear reader - what was true in that day is equally true today.

In conclusion, I should also note the profound irony of the homosexual community’s banner which is, of all things, the rainbow.[11] I call this ironic because of God’s stated purpose for the rainbow. Having destroyed the world of wickedness in a deluge, God gave Noah the promise that He would never again “destroy all flesh” by means of a flood. Therefore God revealed to Noah “the bow [haqeshet] that is in the cloud” (i.e., rainbow) as His symbol to all of mankind that He would refrain from giving humanity what it otherwise deserves, thereby supplying a measure of mercy to the sons of men while they live on the earth. The Hebrew word haqeshet (a hunter’s bow) gives us a sense of what is implied by the word mercy: men deserve judgment because of indwelling sin (Gen. 8:21), yet such judgment is withheld as an act of merciful restrain. Those who have ever drawn a hunter’s bow know that it takes a measure of strength to draw and sustain a bow’s tension. Releasing the bow is the easy part, but keeping it drawn and restrained for long periods of time requires significant force. I would suggest to the reader that this is the picture of God’s temporal mercy upon the sons of men in this life, which is similarly unveiled in the New Testament: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36). This text in John 3 unpacks some of the inherentrainbow_04 symbolism of God’s “bow (haqeshet) in the clouds” by revealing God’s presently active mercy and pending wrath. Mercy is now active such that men “live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28), enjoying “rains and fruitful seasons” here on the earth (Acts 14:17). Note that the text tells us that God’s wrath “abides” on all those who do not obey the Son. That word “abides” (menei) is the present active indicative form of the verb meno (abide), indicating a present and ongoing reality in God’s relation with this world. In many respects, this is what we see in God’s bow (haqeshet) – the active tension of God’s merciful restraint which will someday give way to the release of His just and eternal wrath upon all those who resist Him. In view of this, the rainbow is both awesomely beautiful, yet haunting in light of its implied message. Overall, let the reader consider this: the image of the rainbow is not just for the homosexual community – it is for all men in light of God’s present Gospel mercy and promised future wrath. It is a reminder that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23); and that the wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23); therefore, apart from Christ, all men are counted as God’s enemies (Romans 5:8) and must plead for mercy and grace which is fully revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ:

These truths are not just for one sector of our society, but they are for all men: “…he who believes in the Son has life, he who does not obey the son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” John 3:36.


[1] Hosea 4:6.

[2] From The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1638-1639): “For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel is now practiced amongst us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made, ordered, and decreed…”

[3] Romans 1:18-24.

[4] Matthew 19:4–6 — 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

[5] Psalm 2:1–6 — 1 Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. 5 Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, 6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

[6] Ephesians 2:1–3 — 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course 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. 3 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.

[7] NationalJournal: Scalia: 'High-Handed' Kennedy Has Declared Us 'Enemies of the Human Race', http://www.nationaljournal.com/domesticpolicy/scalia-high-handed-kennedy-has-declared-us-enemies-of-the-human-race-20130626.

[8] Scalia’s reference to hostes humani generis, though strikingly similar in meaning, is probably rooted in maritime history, rather than being a quote from the ancient Roman historian.

[9] Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome (Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1993), p. 365, italics mine.

[10] James 4:4 — 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

[11] The establishment of the rainbow, as a symbol for the homosexual community, is normally attributed to Gilbert Baker – an artist from San Francisco – who first designed the flag in 1978. There is no apparent evidence that Baker was attempting to imitate the Bible’s description of the rainbow in Genesis 9. Instead, the homosexual community has used several colors (in recent history) in order to depict various aspects and perspectives of the gay community.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism, Chapter II: Lexical Fallacies of Fallible Prophecy

The Book: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism: An Analysis, Critique, and Exhortation Concerning Wayne Grudem’s Teaching on “Fallible Prophecy”, is available here.

Table of Contents:  9781935358138 _covRGBFLAT[4]

Introduction: A Primer to Prophecy 

Chapter I: Prophecy - A Test of Love

Chapter II: Fallible Prophecy – Lexical Concerns

Chapter III: Fallible Prophecy – The Case of Agabus 

Chapter IV: Fallible Prophecy – A Gift for All?

Conclusion: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism

In Chapter II we explore the core exegetical fallacies found within the theology of “fallible prophecy.” Despite the clear and cogent descriptions of prophecy found within the Old and New Testament Scriptures, the advocates of fallible prophecy seek to redefine prophecy in the New Testament era by means of profane (secular) Greek definitions. This is a curious tactic, especially since the word prophet (H. nabiy, G. prophetes) is not lacking in scriptural uses and examples. The danger of utilizing secular thinking when defining scriptural terms should be self evident to most; however many today are being drawn into such thinking. This chapter more deeply explores the dangers of redacting biblical word meanings with worldly thinking.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism, Chapter I: Prophecy - A Test of Love

 

The Book: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism: An Analysis, Critique, and Exhortation Concerning Wayne Grudem’s Teaching on “Fallible Prophecy”, is available here.

9781935358138-_covRGBFLAT4[1]Table of Contents:

Introduction: A Primer to Prophecy 

Chapter I: Prophecy - A Test of Love

Chapter II: Fallible Prophecy – Lexical Concerns

Chapter III: Fallible Prophecy – The Case of Agabus 

Chapter IV: Fallible Prophecy – A Gift for All?

Conclusion: The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism

In Chapter I we examine the Old and New Testament biblical mandates for testing those who claim to be prophets. These tests are not only important for measuring the claimants of the prophetic gift, but they are also crucial for the congregation of God’s people. Failure to apply these tests is no small matter. Central to these prescribed tests is the evaluation of genuine love (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 1 Corinthians 13) because the congregation that tolerates false prophets is one that no longer prioritizes God’s supreme word above all. In the worst of all cases, such an absence of love stands as a grave warning, or as the Apostle Paul said: “if anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed” 1 Corinthians 16:22.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Their Feet are Swift to Shed Blood…

We live in a nation where the majority of our “leaders” proudly advocate the murder of our unborn children. This, coupled with the immeasurable debt now incurred by our nation, guarantees that children who manage to survive the womb will be strapped with a debt that cannot be paid in their own lifetime. The men and women who perpetuate such child abuse have no more personal dignity than someone like Kermit Gosnell (Inhuman: Undercover in America's Late-Term Abortion Industry - Carhart ):

As it is written:

Romans 3:15–18 — 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 Destruction and misery are in their paths, 17 And the path of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (NASB95)

But we must remember - all mankind drowns in a sea of iniquities and transgressions (Romans 3:23) – revealing our universal need for the Savior: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why Should I Fear in Days of Adversity? (Psalm 49)

benghazi-libya-coverup-obama-white-house-hillary-clinton-chris-stevensThe corruptions of our nation are staggering and could lead us to despair should we loose sight of the sovereign God and Creator who presides over all the affairs of men. Though we may see precious little justice in this life, the righteous Judge will prevail; and though the wicked may increase in their power and riches, their increase is that which will perish and blow away with the wind. Man in his pomp is like the beasts that perish:

Psalm 49 — 
[For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah]
1 Hear this, all peoples; Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, 2 Both low and high, Rich and poor together. 3 My mouth will speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart will be understanding. 4 I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will express my riddle on the harp. 5 Why should I fear in days of adversity, When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me, 6 Even those who trust in their wealth And boast in the abundance of their riches? 7 No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him— 8 For the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying forever— 9 That he should live on eternally, That he should not undergo decay. 10 For he sees that even wise men die; The stupid and the senseless alike perish And leave their wealth to others. 11 Their inner thought is that their houses are forever And their dwelling places to all generations; They have called their lands after their own names. 12 But man in his pomp will not endure; He is like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the way of those who are foolish, And of those after them who approve their words.

Selah.

14 As sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; And the upright shall rule over them in the morning, And their form shall be for Sheol to consume So that they have no habitation. 15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me.

Selah.

16 Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, When the glory of his house is increased; 17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him. 18 Though while he lives he congratulates himself— And though men praise you when you do well for yourself— 19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They will never see the light. 20 Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, Is like the beasts that perish. (NASB95)

Should we fear in days of adversity? – may it never be.