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Defining the Incomprehensible

Originally posted on chantrynotes:


That Which Cannot Be Defined

One of the most fascinating descriptions of sanctuary design which I have heard came from an unbelieving architect hired to design a new facility for a Reformed Baptist church. After meeting with various members and officers, interviewing them about their beliefs, their concerns and their architectural theories, he concluded, “So we’re trying to point to something which ultimately cannot be defined, right?”

Far from making a post-modern statement about the know-ability of truth, he was approaching a matter of great importance in Christian theology. The Christian can never define God, because definition requires absolute comprehension. To define God, we would need to know the limits of His essence, and He has no limits. That which is infinite may only be described; it can never be dissected.

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Send The Light

Originally posted on Live Life! Int'l:

While Charles H. Gabriel was a choir singer in a church in San Francisco he penned today’s hymn.  The value of lighthouses along the rugged California shore probably lies in the background.  How tragic when a lighthouse designed to provide a clear consistent signal failed to shine.   The song builds from a general call to one WE own, to accompanying that call with prayer and lastly continuing to labour in extending the impact of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  May today be a day of “letting the light shine!”

There is an interesting selection of Biblical verses woven into this hymn.  Do you know your Bible well enough to identify them?

There’s a call comes ringing over the restless wave,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
There are souls to rescue there are souls to save,
Send the light! Send the light!

Send the light, the blessed Gospel light;

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New Calvinism: Conclusions

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

A few weeks ago I began blogging about the phenomenon which is called “New Calvinism.” The immediate impetus for this series was an article from Iain Murray of Banner of Truth on the Together for the Gospel Conference. I, too, have been encouraged by the gatherings of so many Christians in which old literature is read, old hymns are sung, and old doctrine is preached. However, I am deeply concerned by statements such as this:

‘New Calvinist’ too easily suggests some kind of departure from ‘the Old’. But what is now occurring in many parts of the United States can patently be seen to have sprung out of what is far from new. It is no more ‘new’ than the doctrine that was heard under Whitefield and Edwards in the 1740s, or later, under Spurgeon or Lloyd-Jones. What was supposed to be ‘as dead as Queen Anne’ is very much…

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New Calvinism and Orthodoxy

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

As I have written about the New Calvinism, some have commented to the effect that it is wrong of me to write about the problems inherent in the new movement without first saying what is good about it. I suppose I could reply in simple and curmudgeonly fashion that the “Calvinism” part is good, while everything “New” about it is bad – which wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

Underlying this charge is the assumption that the New Calvinism is essentially a good thing. I increasingly find myself reading the critiques of Calvinism from outside the Reformed camp – written by bloggers and others who really don’t know anything but the New Calvinism – and agreeing with them! Calvinism as it is known to many today is fraught with theological danger, although I would insist that the problem isn’t the Calvinism so much as the New! At some point…

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New Calvinism and Celebrity

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

Earlier this week I wrote about the legalism inherent in much of the New Calvinism, a legalism which grows easily in the rich soil of antinomianism fertilized with charismaticism. Legalism, as I noted, takes many forms. In some cases it will manifest itself in a complex ethical construct built apart from the law of God. In others the ethical construct will be a simple follow-the-leader mentality responding to a charismatic personality with the supposed input of the Holy Spirit.

Such a system is depends upon and promotes the celebrity of the chosen leader. Carl Trueman has put some effort into defining what exactly makes for celebrity in ecclesiastical leadership, but if I could add my two cents – celebrity occurs wherever the leader is greater than the creed, or more properly, wherever the leader becomes the creed.

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There’s Nothing too Hard for Thee

Originally posted on Live Life! Int'l:

Jeremiah 32:27 is a faith-building verse. The issue for us is whether we believe it to be true. How well do you know God? What is He capable of doing? Read and reread this statement. Why not begin every prayer this week with it? Why not hold this claim up before every impossible situation over which you are praying?
“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

The author of this chorus declares the omnipotence of God in stanza one drilling home this truth into the recesses of the soul. Then in stanza two a confidence is declared, a reminder to oneself and to the Lord that the posture of trust is the one we are seeking by grace to maintain.
As you ponder these words of encouragement, why not combine them with the simple request – “Lord, increase my faith!”

There’s nothing…

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New Calvinism and Legalism

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

Last week I began to introduce some concerns that Old Calvinists have with the New Calvinism. The first of these, perhaps unexpectedly to most, is that the New Calvinism is antinomian at its core. This seems out of step with recent criticism of the bastion of the New Calvinism – the Gospel Coalition. However, I questioned whether or not antinomianism is actually the opposite of legalism. Later in the week I posited that antinomianism actually produces legalism:

The reason is that all men realize that there is no such thing as religion without ethics. The grace of Christ transforms ethics into something other than a system of meritorious works, but of course it does not do away with the concept of ethics. So if an ethical standard is a natural necessity, and if the law of God is rejected, the creation of a manmade system of ethical regulations is…

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New Calvinism and Charismaticism

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

Earlier this week I began to address serious concerns regarding the New Calvinism. Let me reiterate that not every person who speaks at a conference such as Together for the Gospel is a representative of each of these concerns. However, the recent resurgence of interest in the Doctrines of Grace has come without a corresponding interest in the old Reformed practice of confessionalism, resulting in a movement which is hard to defend precisely because so many concerning elements float around in the midst of its conferences, ministries, publications, and churches. So far my best effort at defining “New Calvinism” is this:

New Calvinism, then, is the big-tent, diverse, small-c “calvinism” which has recently become popular through the influence of large names, large churches, and large events.

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A Tale of Two Conferences

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

Late last month I had the privilege and joy of once again attending the Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Banner is always a highlight of my year, and not only because of the books.

Two factors keep me returning to Banner. One is circumstantial; the journey takes me back through the Cumberland Valley where I grew up, refreshing my soul with the rolling swell of the Appalachians and also with the opportunity to revisit old friends. But by far the greater factor in my determination to return is that the Banner Conference consistently provides the ministry of the Word to weary ministers. I go to listen to solid preaching – to sit in silence while the Scripture is handled by doctrinally reliable men touched with the urgency of the gospel. Preachers need such ministry – it not only replenishes our ministry; it also restores our spirits.


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The Rope Around The High Priest’s Ankle- Myth’s That’ll Preach

Originally posted on Pulpit & Pen:

This is the second entry in a three-part series deconstructing popular illustrations that pastors give their congregations, all of which might sound good or spiritual, but do not correspond to history or reality. The purpose is to build your discernment when people say bibley things, and not let evangelical historical sound bites lead you to repeat them.

There is a commonly told story in Christendom that is usually told to make a point about the holiness of God. Pastors would say that once a year on the day of Atonement, the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies in the temple to make sacrifices.  It was said that he would wear bells on his person, and would have a rope tied around his ankle. The idea is that if he had failed to purify himself and had even the slightest amount of sin left in him, or…

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