Erosion of (Theological) Language

Gerhard O. Forde on the erosion of language in theology:

It is evident that there is a serious erosion or slippage in the language of theology today. Sentimentality leads to a shift in focus, and the language slips out of place. To take a common example, we apparently are no longer sinners, but rather victims, oppressed by sinister victimizers whom we relentlessly seek to track down and accuse…

We no longer live in a guilt culture but have been thrown into meaninglessness—so we are told. Then the language slips out of place. Guilt puts the blame on us as sinners, but who is responsible for meaninglessness? Surely not we! Sin, if it enters our consciousness at all, is generally something that “they” did to us. As Alan Jones, dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of San Francisco, put it once, “We live in an age in which everything is permitted and nothing is forgiven.” Continue reading Erosion of (Theological) Language

Don’t Sell Your Carabaos Just Yet

The 12-21-12 scare of the Mayan calendar is one practical reason why we need to pay attention to eschatology. I am not kidding.

As Christians, we can not afford to ignore these things while many misguided teachings fly around. Many of us have seen the tragedy of people believing erroneous teachings about end times. Some have even sold their properties and stopped pursuing the advancement of their careers in anticipation of the coming of Christ. It shouldn’t be that way. The coming of Christ is supposed to be our blessed hope, not something that causes us to stop being reasonable.

When I was in college, I personally know of a well-meaning Christian family who sold their properties (and carabaos!) because of a prediction that the world will end in the midnight between December 31, 1999 and January 1, 2000. The disappointment (and embarrassment) that dawned with the morning of the year 2000 was too painful to watch. While the neighbors sneered at their misplaced faith, I was struck with a sobering truth: wrong eschatology is no laughing matter.

Is Eschatology Just for Head Knowledge?

During our Eschatology Lecture last Saturday with Pastor Noel Landicho, a victory group leader approached me with an interesting question. He asked why we need to study the end times in the first place. To him, it sounded like all these things all boil down to having head knowledge.

I can understand where the question was coming from. If you’ve attended Victory for quite a while, you must have noticed that we always trumpet relevance and practical application in our preaching. Even our church events (like Marriage Boosters or Finance seminars) all point back to how we can apply the Word in our lives today. We are a church that doesn’t spend much time speculating the nuances of doctrines. Instead of debating the validity of, say, infant baptism, we’d rather go and preach the gospel to the nations.

So why preach on eschatology now? Where’s the practical application in that?

Continue reading Is Eschatology Just for Head Knowledge?

This Is Not to Scare You

Three major things I learned during our Eschatology Lecture last Saturday:

First, when you talk about the second coming of Christ, it is better to focus on positive application. Anything that produces fear and panic doesn’t come from Christ. And anything that comes from Christ builds up faith.

Many people have the tendency to make eschatology morbid and terrifying. This is not the way of our Lord and His apostles. When the Bible talks about the end of the world, it also talks about the bigger themes of hope and eternal life. In 2 Peter 3:11-13, Peter emphasized that our knowledge of end times should challenge us to live holy and godly lives.

Second, eschatology is a broad and, errr, difficult (read: confusing) topic for most people. The abundance of symbolism in Daniel, Joel, Ezekiel and Revelation doesn’t help much. I mean, seriously, does anyone know what the dragon, the seven vials and the seven hills mean? Continue reading This Is Not to Scare You

Simplicity

God’s plan of salvation is so simple that the least among the sons of men can grasp enough of it to experience its transforming power. At the same time, it is so profound that no inadequacy has ever been discovered in it. In fact, those who know it best are continuously amazed that one, and only one, plan of salvation is needed to meet that vast array of spiritual needs among the almost limitless varieties of the needs of men in every race, culture and condition among the nations of this world.

Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, p179

What You See in the Mirror

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6: 5)

[This] verse is not describing a super-sinner class. No, it’s a mirror into which every human being is meant to look and see himself. It is capturing in a few powerful words what theologians call “total depravity.”

Now, total depravity doesn’t mean that as sinners we are as bad as we could possibly be. No, what it actually means is that sin reaches to every aspect of our personhood. Its damage of us is total. Physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, motivationally, socially, we have been damaged by sin. Its ravages are inescapable and comprehensive. No one has dodged its scourge, and no one has been partially affected. We are all sinners. It reaches to every aspect of what makes us us.

Sadly, when each of us looks into the mirror of Genesis 6:5, we see an accurate description of ourselves.

Source: Paul Tripp, The Danger of Self- Defense (Desiring God Blog, April 8, 2011)

And Their Eyes Were Opened

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, their eyes were opened and they knew what was good and evil. This does not mean that they acquired new knowledge in addition to what they knew before.

The “knowing” what is good and evil signifies a complete reversal of man’s knowledge. Up until that moment, all Adam and Eve knew was God and everything good. Yes the devil had already fallen at that time and he may have been creeping around finding a way to destroy God’s creation. But until Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation, their focus was solely on God and His presence.

After the fall, their first realization was their nakedness. They knew right away that something was missing.

When Adam and Eve fell to temptation, they lost sight of what is, and started being conscious of what isn’t there. No, they didn’t acquire new knowledge. They shifted their focus. From God. To something else.

Inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics (Touchstone, 1955).

Scarlet Cord

scarletScarlet cord on the window. A symbol only Rahab and the foreign spies understood. For everyone inside the safe walls of Jericho, the cord was just one of the many unusual things about the infamous prostitute. For Rahab, it was a promise of safety, of deliverance, of salvation, not just for herself but for her entire household.

The conditions of the promise were interesting. Rahab had to tie the cord she used for the spies’ escape on her window, her family had to stay indoors during the invasion and she had to keep their espionage a secret. The last two conditions were fine; it’s the flapping red cord on the window that intrigued me. Continue reading Scarlet Cord

Fresh Theology

I recently got my copy of Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris more than a week ago. I didn’t know what the book was all about, I just picked it up from OMF during the Manila International Book Fair simply because I knew the author and the Rumspringa story in the first chapter really caught my attention.

Joshua Harris was the guy behind the I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame. Whereas most people would associate his name with the love and courtship genre, he is actually more than that. The first few chapters of Dug Down Deep would show that he has matured into a well respected pastor and writer with so much to share to the body of Christ.

Harris’ sudden shift to theological stuff was a pleasant surprise for me. Dug Down Deep reads like an introduction to theology minus all the technical words and the formal writing style. In a matter of days, my new Kindle was populated with books Harris mentioned like RC Sproul’s The Holiness of God, Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness, JC Ryle’s Holiness, and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.