Friday, February 6, 2009

6 More Questions for the Potentially Crusty

I've been writing about the need for core theological convictions without a crusty, crotchety shell. Christians should be a kind of inverse tootsie roll pop--a soft, sweet exterior surrounding a strong, solid interior. Yesterday I suggested six questions to help prevent crustiness in the theologically devout. Today, six more questions.

7. Are we bringing everything up all the way to the glory of God? This is is one of the things I appreciate most about John Piper. Instead of just arguing for justification by faith alone or God's all-controlling sovereignty, he shows how these precious truths bring glory to God. If we don't bring everything up to the level of God, our churches will have factions of book people, youth people, social justice people, evangelism people, etc. We need to see how our unique interests and callings relate to God.

8. Are we experts in Scripture first? It's quite possible to be well-versed in Van Til's apologetics, Calvin's third use of the law, and David Well's critiques of evangelicalism without knowing well the verses of the Bible. We need to know the Bible better than any other book, memorize it, pray it, and teach it (not just a catechism) to our children.

9. Are we theological snobs? If many of my readers are Calvinists, then many of my readers have gone through a crusty Calvinist stage. Some, sadly, never leave it. Certainly, we need to be discerning and help our people grow in their understanding of truth and appetite for meat. But beware the “I’m hipper than thou” attitude that looks down on everyone interested in Left Behind or Facing the Giants are benighted fools. The truly wise learn to benefit from those who don't get everything right.

10. Can we accept that there are Romans 14 issues? The tricky question (the trickiest question in my opinion) is which issues are Romans 14 issues. But for starters, we should at least affirm in principle that sometimes we will agree to disagree. We will say at times, "Let each person be convinced in his own mind." This doesn't mean the issue is pointless or unimportant. It means we recognize that the Scripture is not abundantly clear on every issues and we must allow for differences.

11. Are we resounding gongs and clanging cymbals? If we have convictions and disagree with others, some people will call us loveless. But, that doesn't mean we have to live up to the charges. We need to love our friends, love the church, and love our enemies. We should not be scared to love and talk about love just because liberals have hijacked the word.

12. Do we possess deep and pervasive piety? I know that pietism is a bad word in some circles. It conjures up notionas of anti-intellectual sentimentality. But we got pietism because Protestant scholasticism had gotten dry (or at least many of the churches of the time had). If we want to be more than intellectual people who happen to be into theology, we need to cultivate deep affections and deeper sanctification. As Reformed Christians (assuming many of you are), let's lead the way, not only in theolgocial integrity, but also in meditation, Scripture memory, intercession, and earnest worship. What our families, friends, and churches need most from us is our own personal holiness.


Demian Farnworth said...

Great thoughts. Positively loved them. Especially "are we theological snobs?" Just the other day I was in a conversation *cough* debate with a young gal and my buddy leans over and says "Easy Luther."

Loving your blog, Kevin.

Jody Britton said...

Very intriguing posts on this topic. Alot of this resonated with me.

I would take #10 a step further and say that we should not only leave room for Romans 14 issues, but that we should celebrate differences and bless others with whom we might disagree. To begrudgingly "leave room" while secretly despising the other brother(or "knowing" that we're in the right) is pride at its fullest.

I say "celebrate" because God has set up his church knowing that folks would feel differently about these things, and uses different people in different ways because they can, for instance, interact with culture in a different way than another Christian could. Or perhaps, someone is called to deal with family education in a certain way and can lead others there. This is a strength of the church, I think, not just something we have to "accept".


Judson said...

Kevin, this mini-series has been one of the most helpful things that I've read as a pastor in a long time. I copied the 12 questions onto my palm so I can do sort of a self-examination once in a while. Thanks for sharing these.

BTW, looking forward to the Calvin Conference!!

ZSB said...
This post has been removed by the author.
ZSB said...

Kevin, this mini-series has been one of the most helpful things that I've read as a pastor in a long time. I copied the 12 questions onto my palm so I can do sort of a self-examination once in a while. Thanks for sharing these.

BTW, looking forward to the Calvin Conference!!

d said...

Excellent post, pastor. I am so glad you decided to start blogging!!

It's funny how crustiness (or the pursuit against) quickly becomes it's own theology. I would like to offer

though that to encourage one-another in love unto sanctification isn't always huggy, but should

always remain Loving. Other questions and comments with respect to your specific points:

#1 - Yes, we should care about the Free Offer of the Gospel - which means we need to care deeply about the

Church, passionate Christ-centered preaching, caring for the real needs and encouraging the Sheep to witness to

the Glory of the Reedemer when called upon to do so. I worry a great deal of the re-invention aspects to

"evangelism" in the church today that sounds a lot like salesmanship - which is detrimental to Christ. If we

are to get "evangelism" right, we must get theology right (which is really easy to do), and it is only the God-honoring Biblically persribed methods and content for which we should be striving.

#2 - True. Although I'd like to see a Church of 10k that is faithful to the Word on the whole, in this

culture, I don't think it can exist. But God can do anything, including changing the entire culture to reflect a Christ-centered worldview.

A resounding AMEN on #7 and #8!

#9 - Those you truly understand Grace should never look down on anyone, but that doesn't mean we ought to look

over the terrible, terrible damage that such works as Left Behind (and more importantly the theology behind

them) have done to the modern church. It would be very refreshing to hear from pastors today that though we

love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we implore them to leave the self-centered gospel and embrace

truth for their own good and more importantly, the glorification of the King.

#10 - Yes, I do generally agree with this but don't really understand with what I'm agreeing. Who or how or

what gets to decide a "third rung" issue. And I know that you don't agree that EVERY issue is to be left to
the "minds" of the believer... so if that is true, how do we make these distinctions and keep the local body as

unified as possible? For instance, how can RPers and Normative folks really "just get along" without selling


#11 and #12 - Good reminders. Although I dont' understand that last sentence on 12.

AND, I will also venture to state that getting "Baptism" wrong is VASTLY important and is more important then

getting the "Cross" correct. How can you get the "Cross" correct, from a preaching perspective, without understanding our Covenant Lord? I do agree, from the "sheep" perspective that it is not necessary to fully understand it to be saved, but I may state that one should never deny it.

In short, I will put forth that a Reformed take on the Scriptures has nothing to appologize for and only from such a view can we preach and proclaim an understanding of Grace and Love. No other system holds in tension the absolute beauty of our Savior the Justice and Love of the Father for His children and a real meaning behind the proclamation to a dying world.

God Bless,


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