Archive | December, 2008

Belated Twelve Days of Calvinism

I can’t believe I forgot to post this, but here it is anyway. (Thank Carrie Hunter—I only contributed in a minor way).

On the first day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, the fallen nature of man.

On the second day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

On the third day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, John chapter six, called and chosen, and the fallen nature of man.

On the fourth day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, Synod of Dordt, John chapter six, called and chosen, and the fallen nature of man.

On the fifth day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me 5 GOLDEN POINTS! Synod of Dordt, John chapter six, called and chosen and the fallen nature of man. Continue Reading →

Robert Bowman on Books that have Shaped his Life

Robert Bowman give a list of the books that have most shaped his life and thought.

Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (1972). I became an evangelical Christian in 1974-75, and McDowell’s Evidence was one of the first apologetics books I read. Yes, it was a popular, unsophisticated book, but it got me interested in biblical apologetics. Thanks, Josh.

E. Gordon Rupp and Philip S. Watson, ed., Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation, Library of Christian Classics (1969). Toward the end of my first year of college, another Christian college student challenged me to read Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will (1525). When I discovered that Luther’s book was a response to Desiderius Erasmus’s book On Free Will (1524), which was itself a critique of Luther’s theology, I decided to read Erasmus first and then Luther in order to get both sides of the debate. At the time, my own theological inclinations were very similar to those of Erasmus. However, I was forced to admit that Luther won the debate, hands down. Reading these two books completed my conversion to an evangelical Protestant faith. The Library of Christian Classics volume, which I read, includes both books and helpful introductions and footnotes.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952) and Miracles: A Preliminary Study (2d ed., 1960). Like most evangelicals, I am unabashedly a fan of Lewis (even though he was not consistently evangelical in his theology). I limit myself to the two Lewis books that have meant the most to me. I still think Lewis’s Miracles is one of the very best books ever published on the subject.

F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (5th ed., 1960) and New Testament History (1969). Bruce’s NTD is a short, clear exposition of the evidence for the textual and historical reliability of the New Testament writings. I read this book in 1975 and its basic positions and arguments still hold up today. You can read the fifth edition of NTD online free; the later sixth edition (1981) is now available with a Foreword by N. T. Wright. NTH is a masterful textbook survey of the New Testament placing the events it records in their historical context. I used NTH as a textbook for an upper-division course on New Testament history that I taught in 1978 for my senior project at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Read the rest here.

The Theology Program on iTunes

Just in case you had not heard, we now have the entire curriculum of The Theology Program for free on iTunes as well as all the electives.

  • Introduction to Theology with C. Michael Patton and Rhome Dyck
  • Bibliology and Hermeneutics with C. Michael Patton and Rhome Dyck
  • Trinitarianism with C. Michael Patton and Rhome Dyck
  • Humanity and Sin with C. Michael Patton and Rhome Dyck
  • Soteriology with C. Michael Patton and Rhome Dyck
  • Ecclesiology and Eschatology with C. Michael Patton and Rhome Dyck

Here is a list of the electives.

  • Introduction to Apologetics with Robert Bowman
  • Apologetic Methods with Robert Bowman
  • Christian Philosophy with Paul Copan

Be sure to subscribe to these on iTunes as we will be updating them with new courses soon.

Also, here are the COMING ELECTIVES:

  • Church History through the Reformation with Sam Storms
  • The General Epistles and Revelation with Mark Hitchcock
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons with Robert Bowman

Please give us a review on iTunes and tell us what you think.

God bless and Happy New Year.

Dei Gratia,

Michael Patton

Why I am Not Charismatic (Part 4): Excursus

This is a sort excursus or interlude to my series that I think is a valuable part of the discussion. It comes from a friend who responded to my post on prophecy. Please read carefully as I believe his testimony, while you may or may not agree with it, is representative of many disillusioned continuationists/charismatics. Nathan was very passionate yet respectful in this post. I pray that you would show the same maturity in your responses.

Thanks Nathan for letting me post this.

“I’ve held back from posting my comments thus far. But Michael has provoked me to say something. I will try to focus on the current context of this post. At this point in the series, Michael is focused on healing and prophecy, so I will focus on prophecy for now.

My experience with the gift of prophecy, healing and tongues is 20 years in the making. Grew up around the gifts. Prophecy was a dime a dozen. It was everywhere.

Now, as I look back like a PI and investigate my experiences, I consider all the prophecies that are burned into my head. And, lo and behold, not one came true. Really? Yes, really. And its not like I didn’t like prophecy, for many years I hoped against hope that it was really God speaking through these folks. But, if evidence means anything, these folks were not prophesying on behalf of God. They couldn’t have been. Most of the prophecies were tethered to real events or something coming soon. Later on the prophecies became very generic and more praise than anything. I imagine the people could have just as well given the praise without the prophecy, since that was all that really happened. Continue Reading →

Open Forum: Question from a Reader . . .

I got this from an unnamed P & P reader and thought I would open this up to you instead of answering it right now.

I’m confused. Should we or should we not expect anything from God? The scriptures tells us that Jesus said (Mat 7:7-11)

“Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. Would any of you give your hungry child a stone, if the child asked for some bread? Would you give your child a snake if the child asked for a fish? As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask.”

So, will I receive or not? I have a wife and two kids. I got lay-off from the firm I was working from. I keep praying for a job, even if it’s not as an architect. I received nothing! Yet I keep praising God. I’m starting to believe that I should just be happy with receiving his forgiveness. Even if I do lose my home, my cars, my health; I already lost my job and these are probably next!

I really feel for him. I often meet people who are confused—even disillusioned—by this passage. You can include my wife in this list.

What does it mean? Is there a unspoken qualification to the asking? Or is the qualification in the context?

Can you join me in giving him some encouragement?

Some Jews, Gentiles and Random Thoughts About Christmas

I’ll confess, I am not big on Christmas.  No, not because I don’t relish celebrating the birth of Christ but because of the superfluous trappings that have melded into obligations.  We generate lists to foster consumerism that encourages overspending and stress.  Decorations and meals and gifts have to fit within the holiday motif to satisfy the holiday requirements.   It’s all become part of fulfilling the Merry Christmas.  It all seems so trite.  If I had it my way, I probably would forgo the gift exchange obligation entirely.  But sadly, others for whom the trappings have become meaningful, would be short changed and that, I could not abide by.  Perhaps it is because as a student I don’t have the resources I used to and its become more strenuous to meet holiday demands.   Perhaps it is that I spend another year without a that meaningful somebody to share it with.  Nonetheless, I will be glad once December 25th is over.

Of course, for us Christians it is supposed to be a time to reflect on the birth of Jesus.  Unfortunately, I think that we put that specific celebration into a banal box of pageants and programs.  For if the reflection is not maintained year round, then the one time shot could just be reduced to a program that we include on our list of Christmas stuff to do.  But I do make every effort, particularly at this time to really reflect on what it is we are supposed to be celebrating. It indeed is quite magnificent but unfortunately gets lost in the jumbled ball of holiday happenings.

I think our tendency is to reflect on Christmas and the birth of Christ through 21st century, gentile eyes.  We who have trusted in Christ consider the salvation that we have.  We may consider our former way of life before Christ and how unknowledgeable we were regarding the reality of our spiritual deadness.  The birth we celebrate represents spiritual reconciliation so desparately needed for hope and eternal life.   Yes, God did need to save us and sent His son in the likeness of flesh to do just that.

But recently,  I have been thinking about this from another perspective.  Perhaps it is because I am reading through the Pentateuch and am considering the status of things pre-Christ both from a Jewish and Gentile perspective.  I imagine it must have tough for the Jews.  They were God’s chosen people and rightful claimers of his promises.  But the catch was they had to follow all these rules.  There was no internal enablement to assist them other than the motivation of maintaining covenant with God.

I don’t know who had it worse, the priests or the people.  The law was so specific.  Every jot and tittle had to be performed to perfection.  There were so many requirements.  But if God was to be satisfied so the people could have atonement for sins and maintain favor in consideration of covenant promises, these requirements were necessary.    I have to imagine that was quite a bit of pressure for the priests.

Everything had to be perfect for meaningful worship.  Priests could not have deformities.  The requirements of perfection also extended to the people.  There was no brokenness allowed.   Persons with skin diseases, women hemorrhaging, men with abnormal discharges were banished from the presence of community life unless specific offerings and a proclamation by the priests were provided so these broken people could have some chance of normalcy within the context of covenant promises.

It is no wonder that time and time again, rebellion ensued as the people followed after the enticements around them that eventually led to captivity.  These were people in need of hope.

To the Jew, the birth of Christ meant that the perfection of the Law was no longer dependent upon external performance but upon the Law written on the heart.  The shekinah glory that represented God’s presence, would now reside internally.  The only perfection that existed was Christ himself and the sacrifice that He became, fulfilling every aspect of the Law.  It is no wonder that He addressed healing through his acts to show the wholeness that is found only in Him.

But the ones who were the big losers were the Gentiles.  They were not God’s people.  They were not chosen by Him to receive His covenant promises.  The Gentiles were the ones that God commanded His people to stay away from and not intermingle lest the purity of God’s holiness as reflected on His people, be marred.  I can imagine some Gentiles craving to be included in God’s community because of His care, concern and provision for His people.  Yes the Gentiles, were people in need of hope.

It reminds me that from pre-Christ eyes, we Gentiles would have no business in His business.  But it also reminds me of what Paul says to the church at Ephesus:

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by the so-called “Circumcision”, which is performed in the flesh by human hands – remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.  (Ephesians 2:11-13, 19).

To the Gentile, Christ meant that the covenant promises could now be claimed based on faith and not by circumstances of birth.

So as Christmas draws near, I think of these 2 classes of hopeless people that without Christ, would remain struggling to keep laws or to achieve a denied status.  But then I think of this passage:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:12-14)

And I praise God for the greatest gift ever.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Offense of Christmas

In the quest for political correctness over the last two decades one of the primary battlegrounds has been centered around Christmas. The phrase “Merry Christmas” and all the public displays associated with it have been considered offensive for a variety of reasons. Pluralists object because it is exclusivistic, those who hold to other faiths feel slighted or left out, and many atheists simply object to all public religious displays. For these people Christmas is so offensive it needs to be cleansed from our vocabulary so that the “Christmas Spirit” (whatever that is) can be ascribed to just about anything that can qualify for the phrase “Happy Holidays.” At best, the sacred is replaced by the sentimental.

Christians, on the other hand, often find it hard to understand what could possibly be offensive about celebrating the birth Jesus, the Prince of Peace. After all, he is the incarnation of a loving God who came into the world as a savior. What’s so offensive about that? The answer is: EVERYTHING! Continue Reading →