AWAKENING TO THE LOST MASTERPIECE OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY/TOTAL INABILITY

Total depravity/total inability is a lost masterpiece of theology.  It has been lost to the knowledge even of those who believe in it, because they have forgotten that it is a doctrine of invitation to receive God on His terms.  It has been lost to the knowledge of even those who believe in it, because they have forgotten that it is a doctrine designed to stimulate the sinner to the point of response.  It has been lost to the knowledge of even those who believe, because they simply do not recognize the links between this truth and that of reprobation, another masterpiece of biblical theology designed to produce a violent resolve, a dynamic decision, a desperate determination.  It is along with Total Depravity/Inability one of the most intensely compelling truths.  It has been lost to the knowledge of even those who believe, because they know little, if anything, about therapeutic paradoxes.  There is more that could be said, but let us take one example from the ministry of our Lord.

In the case of the woman of Canaan, recorded in Mt. 15:21-28, we find that our Lord said something that was seemingly repulsive to her, when she was seeking His help fervently.  He said, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs.”  If anything can be said about the image used, the symbolic term, it is this: It is a picture of total depravity.  A dog was an unclean animal to a Jew.  Worse yet, it appears to have been an image of reprobation, because Peter spoke of the dog as returning to its own vomit, a matter of common knowledge.  Talk about an unfriendly reception, the woman of Canaan seem to have had it.  But what was her response.  She said, “Truth, Lord.”  She agreed with Him:  Her sinfulness could be put in the most repulsive terms, even one that could lead to the suggestion of reprobation as Peter would indicate.  I can not forget having seen dogs eat their own vomit in my childhood and even since.   The idea of this truth is to awaken the sinner to his or her desperate need, and the woman’s need was so great that she not only agreed with the Lord but she even argued with Him, arguing from His own words.  Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.  No one would say that the crumbs that fall to the floor should be swept up and given to the child; they could easily be spared for the dog.  Desperation will move a person , a needy sinner, to consider and accept what he or she would not otherwise receive.  When a dog is hungry enough, it will go for the crumbs, eagerly.  When a sinner feels the need so desperately, then he or she will take even a word of condemnation as an invitation and encouragement.

AWAKENING TO A LOST MASTERPIECE

From Jan.1967-Dec.1969, I served as a Social Worker I with the Kentucky Division of Public Assistance with a case load of about 260-270 or more of ADC, PTD, GR, and OAA cases, mostly the latter (Old Age Assistance). In order to determine continued eligibility for assistance, the worker had to make a visit in the home of the client on a regular basis. One of my clients had a painting hanging on the wall of her home, It was a picture of a peasant couple standing in a field, praying over a potato harvest. The painting was greasy, stained, with a rip in it that some one had repaired by sewing. The client’s story was that one of her ancestral relatives had performed a service for the son of the artist who had recently come to America, and he had given the painting to that relative as payment for the service rendered. He also told the relative that this was the original, that the one hanging in the L’Ourve was a copy. Seems that the officials did not have a space for the artists larger painting, so they requested a smaller copy. The artist complied with predictable irritability. According to the Client, the son had said his father had made some changes in the copy, because he was upset over their rejection of his masterpiece. I saw that painting in 1967 and 1968 during my visits to determine continued eligibility. The painting was always mentioned in the case record, but no one knew the value of it, and the client did not have the money to get it to a place where experts could determine its authenticity and value.
In the Summer of 1971 while attending Columbia University in New York, I had the opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While there I went to the catalog section where the Museum kept photographs of the art works in other famous museums. In the section on the L’Ourve. I viewed the photograph, mentally comparing it with the painting that hung in the home of a woman on welfare. Her painting was a rectangle, possible 36″ by 48-56″, if memory serves me correctly for an educated guess as to the measurements. The one in the L’Ourve was more like a portrait, according to the information available by googling it is 21.9″ by 26″. The one in the L’Ourve showed a few potatoes still lying on the ground instead of being in the basket as one would normally expect. The painting in the home of the welfare client had all the potatoes in the basket.
The famous painting is titled, the Angelus, and it portrays the peasants giving thanks for their harvest at the time of the tolling of the bells for the evening prayers and worship known in Catholic services as the angelus. I went back to Kentucky sometime in the seventies only to find the home of the woman had burned down. There is an irony here as the artist, Jean Millet painted the poor, and it seems appropriate that his original masterpiece should wind up hanging on the wall of a poor woman.
The story of a lost masterpiece reminds us that there are stories of lost masterpieces of theological understanding and interpretation. During the Dark Ages the knowledge of Justification by faith alone was lost, only to be rediscovered by Martin Luther with the consequent revolution that the call the Reformation which, in conjunction with the renewal of learning and knowledge that we call the Renaissance, wrought a vast change in the civilization of the world.
The continuation of that rediscovery culminated and climaxed in the period from 1720-1820, in what we call the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions or the Modern Missionary Movement. This great outburst of theological renewal and cultural transformations can be traced directly or indirectly to the recovery of truths in Holy Scripture which had long been hidden from sight or forgotten. We hope to say more about The Lost Masterpiece, the biblical theology of the Great Awakenings, some of which can be traced to the awakening that we call the Reformation,

AWAKENING TO PATHOLOGICAL MOTIVATIONS

There are all kinds of awakenings, but one of the most important is that of becoming aware of the shortcomings of one’s own motivations.  I have called these shortcomings pathological motivations, because they are basically destructive to all parties concerned where they become evident.  One of the extreme examples was the mass suicides of Jonestown in South America, evil produced by the sick motivations of the leader of the group, the so-called pastor, the Rev. Jim Jones. Such examples are not all that rare.  They just happen to be not that extreme.  Consider how some people can use a controversy to advance their own causes, their own careers, and do it at the expense of others.  There are instances of pastors who must have their people at church so often that the poor souls have no time for family life or anything else, except to work and support by offerings and presence, that pastor who suffers from an inner sense of insecurity.  An inner insecurity can often be satisfied only by outward signs of security, that is, by the control the individual exercises over others.  Other forms of this can involve having the biggest church, the most baptisms, etc.  I once heard of two pastors who came to the point of actually getting in a fist fight over who had the most in Sunday School on a given Sunday Morning.

      Yes, even Christians can have pathological motives.  Just consider how the Disciples of our Lord were arguing over who would be greatest in His kingdom – even in the shadow of the cross.  Two of Disciples had their mother make an effort to influence the Lord Jesus in granting them the privileges (and the power and fame they thought came with it is understood) of setting on His right hand and His left.  And this was done practically in the shadow of the cross.

     I can remember awakening to one such reality at the beginning of my seminary studies.  It was the idea that hanging out with God (to put it in common language) did not guarantee to me that I had any special powers or privileges as a result of that association.  Our Lord’s commendation of humility as well as the promoting of that virtue by His servants in their writings underscores the counteractions instituted for that pathology, the pathology of big-headedness or self-importance.  Examples of practically all of the pathologies one would find in a standard work on the subject in a university course can be found in the word of God.  Even the techniques for dealing with them are sometimes evident in the Bible.

     I once heard a pastor speak of the dysfunctional families of the Patriarchs.  And then there is the technique of reframing an event or something remarkably like it.  Joseph cast a new light on his brothers selling him into slavery, saying, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, to bring it to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”(Gen.50:20)

AWAKENING TO THEOLOGICAL MANIPULATION

Theological manipulation is a reality, but most people are not aware of it.  Moreover, it comes in all forms, shapes, and fashions.  There is the manipulation of perfectionism, the idea that one can be a better Christian, if one will only adopt what the preacher, speaker, or writer advocates.   Sometimes, the effort being made is not manipulation but a sincere effort to help the individual believer to strive for a better commitment to Christ, one that involves a more successful and fruitful service.  On the other hand, there are those who discourage such efforts and even encourage a more base response (let us sin that grace may abound).  Some people hate some doctrines, and they will do anything to divert any attention to or affection for such beliefs (the beliefs can be the doctrines of grace or some form of eschatology or being responsible in conduct).  History is replete with such examples (one of the advantages of studying that subject).  However, if the reader wants to consider an extreme example of manipulation with dire consequences, let him or her reflect on the Rev. Jim Jones and the Jonestown massacre.   Or one might investigate the crusade against the Albigensians in Southern France in the Middle Ages.  During the sack of one town, the soldiers wanted to know what to do about people gathered in a Catholic Church, claiming to be Catholics.  The papal representative’s reply was short and to the point: “Kill them all!  God knows His own!”  As a matter of balance, perhaps I should present an instance of Baptist intransigence and its consequences. In the early 1820s, shortly before his death, The Rev. Dr. Richard Furman wrote an article on the Baptists and slavery.  In it he made the statement that Baptists would write in defense of slavery.  Forty years later his mindset and manipulation (in conjunction with the mindset and manipulation of others led to the Civil War which cost the nation somewhere between 650.000 and 750,000 casualties.

     Eschatological manipulation with the portrayal of Russia as the Antichrist nation (which it was to some degree) could have led to an atomic war which resulted in the destruction of the whole earth.  Interestingly enough, the writers of such inflammatory views seemed to have prospered very well, Thank you!  More could be said about a variety of theological concepts which have been the means to motivate people to action, one way or another, and the controversies they engendered have been the means to advance the personal causes and agendas of individuals whose altruisms in the conflicts are questionable to say the least.

Awakening a Thousand Generations

     “Have you ever thought about the fact that at any one time every last soul on earth could be the elect of God?”  One of the roots of this blog post can be traced to that question put to me, circa 1967-68, by a man whom I consider to have been the wisest person I ever met.

There are other sources.  For example, Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt which moved William Carey, Andrew Fuller, and others to launch what the noted historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette,  called the Great Century of Missions or the modern missionary movement as it is generally known.

The most important source is our text, I Chronicles 16:15, which states:

Be ye mindful of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.

Let us look at that text from a temporal and chronological perspective.  Consider the length of a generation.  Today, we think in terms of 20 years which would mean that mankind has about 20,000 years.  If we have longer generations as is implied in the idea of a man dying at a hundred being a youth and perhaps the average man living as long as Methuselah, 900+ years, then we have 900,000 years.

Couple that with the idea of men going to the stars and setting umpteen quadrillions of planets, and the inhabitants of the same being truly converted (after all, John Owen in his Death of Death in The Death of Christ suggested that the excellency of the atoning death of Christ is of such nature that it could redeem the inhabitants of any number of worlds), one can see how the cheer of the promises to the patriarchs of a seed as innumerable as the sand by the sea shore and the stars of heaven and the statement in Rev.7:9 could also be utterly truthful, the opening of the door of a vision utterly overwhelming. Continue reading

Awakening to the American Past

Dr. Thomas Kidd, a professor at Baylor University, has come out with a new volume, George Whitefield:  The Spiritual Father of America.  I hope to get access to the volume soon and write a review of it for the forum.  In the meanwhile, one can find a review of it on the blog Online Library of Law & Liberty.  I have only one note to add and that is this: If the work measures up to Dr. Kidd’s standard in his work, The Great Awakening (and I see no reason why it will not), it will deserve the time and attention of readers and historians and other scholars with an interest in the past of our nation.

Awakening To The Theology

The ground work or foundation for awakening prayer as well as for the visitation that we call an awakening is to be found in the theology we find linked to the First and Second Great Awakenings and the Launching of the Great Century of Missions as the late historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette called it or the Modern Missionary Movement as it is called today.  That theology with few exceptions must be described as Sovereign Grace or Calvinism.  The latter term actually diverts attention from the reality that Sovereign Grace is taught in Holy Scripture, and the very term is predicated on the use of the word, “reign,” used in Romans 5:21: “That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Reign or rule, of course, suggests the very idea of sovereignty, the authority and power to demand that things be done with a certainty.  Sin abounds.  Grace superabounds.  The enemy comes in like a flood, and God raises up a standard against him, a counter flood, a greater flood.  Like Noah’s flood of old which covered the whole earth, the deluge of grace shall fill the whole earth with His knowledge and glory.  The stone becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth.

Interestingly enough, all of this is to be accomplished not by force but by persuasion  Which brings us to the statement from a work which began my journey toward this understanding of God’s design.  In his Introduction to his translation of William Ames’ Marrow of Divinity (the first textbook in theology used at Harvard, so I understand), Dr. John Eusden stated; “Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage,….”  That statement was like a light turned on in my mind and heart. Continue reading

Awakening to Pray

Our one great need today is for an awakening to prayer.  Yes, there are many calls to pray, and there are many who pray.  However, we have yet to see a movement of the Spirit of God commensurate with what we seek.  That is why I would like to recommend Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt, a tract which inspired William Carey and others to begin praying for the spread of the Gospel to other lands.  The Baptists in England began their prayer meetings in 1785.  Seven years later, 1792, Carey went to Egypt, and the rest, as they say, is history.  The interesting factor in the whole effort, however, is the work by Edwards.  His tract lists nearly a 100 prophecies and/or promises which can be pleaded in prayer as reasons for God to hear and answer.  I have been praying and pleading these promises, since the Fall of 1973 after I addressed the Pastors’ Prayer Meeting of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association on the subject of  A Great Awakening.  I would speak to that group on the fifth and tenth anniversaries.  My subject on those occasions was, A Third Great Awakening.  I cannot say I prayed every day, but I made it a policy that became entrenched to ask for such a visitation as often as possible.  Today, I seldom say grace even without asking for another awakening. Continue reading

Justin Taylor’s Doubts About 24-Hour Days of Creation – In Retrospect

A couple of weeks ago Justin Taylor posted an article entitled “Biblical Reasons to Doubt the Creation Days Were 24-Hour Periods”. Since that time, many have posted articles refuting Justin’s arguments. In this article I will post links to some of the ones I know about and make a couple of observations myself.

First, let me start off by saying that in general I respect Justin. He’s a well-reasoned man of good character and genuinely strives for biblical accuracy. I just think he missed the mark on this one. Nevertheless, his article seems to have given many of us the incentive to hash this issue out. Continue reading

Shedding Light on the Length of Pre-Sun Creation Days: A Text-Based Approach

In the ongoing debate over the Genesis creation account, one supposed problem that seems particularly troublesome for many is the question of the length of a day prior to the creation of the sun (on Day 4). Since the sun is the means by which a day is usually measured, then it is objected by Old-Earthers that we are left without any sure understanding of what God might possibly mean by the term, “day,” when it is used to describe the first three days of creation. Here’s the text:

Genesis 1 ESV
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Continue reading

Answers in Genesis files lawsuit against Ky.

Baptist PressPETERSBURG, Ky. (BP) — Answers in Genesis is suing the government of Kentucky for alleged discrimination in refusing to extend a sales tax rebate incentive program to the Ark Encounter theme park the apologetics ministry is building in northern Kentucky.

The state’s decision to deny the tax incentive based on AiG’s status as a religious organization is against the law and violates legal precedent, the lawsuit asserts.

“The state was so insistent on treating our religious entity as a second-class citizen that we were simply left with no alternative but to proceed to court,” AiG president Ken Ham said. “This is the latest example of increasing government hostility towards religion in America, and it’s certainly among the most blatant. Our organization spent many months attempting to reason with state officials so that this lawsuit would not be necessary.”

via Answers in Genesis files lawsuit against Ky..

Caner’s departure addressed, trustee resigns

Baptist PressEDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated since being posted earlier this afternoon (Feb. 3).

MOUNT VERNON, Ga. (BP) — Brewton-Parker College trustee chairman Gary Campbell is the third high-profile figure to leave the college’s leadership team in the past two weeks.

Campbell tendered his resignation on Feb. 2 shortly before introducing Interim President Charles “Charlie” Bass to faculty and staff at the South Georgia college.

But before departing, Campbell discussed the unexpected resignation of President Ergun Caner on Jan. 20 and, barely a week later, the termination of Vice President C.B. Scott. On Jan. 29 Campbell told Vidalia-based Southeast Georgia Today news outlet that he could not comment on Scott’s departure due to it being a personnel matter.

Ergun Caner

Scott was one of the first administrative appointments made by Caner, calling him “the perfect man for the job” of overseeing the college’s alumni and college relations programs. Scott, who was already serving in various capacities at the college, according to the original press release announcing his appointment, was elevated to the cabinet-level position in January 2014.

Before announcing his own resignation, Campbell took several minutes to “set the record straight concerning speculation regarding recent leadership changes at Brewton-Parker College.”

via Caner’s departure addressed, trustee resigns.

AiG to File Discrimination Suit against Kentucky | Answers in Genesis

answers-in-genesis-logoLawsuit to defend religious freedom explained in new video

by Mark Looy on February 3, 2015

Note: This article is slightly adapted from a news release being sent to the national media today. The release and this web article provide a link to a video of AiG President Ken Ham interviewing attorney Mike Johnson about the religious freedom lawsuit—watch the video at the link above.

Answers in Genesis (AiG), developer of the Ark Encounter theme park in Northern Kentucky, confirmed today it is filing a federal lawsuit against state officials for denying the park participation in the state’s tax rebate incentive program. Although the program is available to all qualifying tourist attractions seeking to build in the state, AiG’s application was rejected solely because of the religious identity and message of AiG. The lawsuit explains how this action by Kentucky officials, including Gov. Steve Beshear, violates federal and state law and amounts to unlawful viewpoint discrimination.

via AiG to File Discrimination Suit against Kentucky | Answers in Genesis.

Religion and Politics by Russell Moore | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org

Russell Mooreby Russell Moore

Tabletalk: How did you come to pursue a career as a systematic theologian and Christian ethicist?

Russell Moore: I felt a call to ministry early on and preached my first sermon at my home church in Biloxi, Miss., when I was twelve. I then drifted from that calling toward a career in politics. When I was working on Capitol Hill as a very young man, I picked up in the Library of Congress a copy of a Free Will Baptist manual on weddings, funerals, and so forth. After I returned home I wondered, “Why did I want this?” The Lord used that to rekindle my sense of His call to ministry. I never imagined how God would merge these callings together.

via Religion and Politics by Russell Moore | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

Discipleship Beyond the Mommy Blogosphere | The Gospel Centered Woman

Gospel Centered WomanIn one of our most widely read and discussed articles yet, Hannah Anderson laid out ways the “mommy blogosphere” has become a vehicle for driving how Christian women think and talk about practical matters of the faith. She concluded the piece by arguing that in recognizing this reality, there is a necessity for local churches to consider how some of what’s encountered in that world may be generating a lack of balance or perspective in how a woman considers seasons like marriage or motherhood in the context of her identity as a child of God. She also argued that one way for churches to address this dynamic is not necessarily to dissuade women from reading or writing blogs entirely, but to encourage women in those churches who are gifted in teaching and writing, to apply those gifts to the Christian blogosphere as a whole.

The argument that women should be encouraged to engage in “digital discipleship” at a deeper and more gospel-oriented level is by no means an argument that women’s discipleship should happen exclusively online. Quite the opposite.

via Discipleship Beyond the Mommy Blogosphere | The Gospel Centered Woman.

Leadership and Spiritual Maturity

Grace to Youby Jeremiah Johnson

New believers, and especially young men, are often very passionate for the truth. The joy of new life in Christ goes hand in hand with the desire to proclaim God’s truth to others and see them come to repentance and faith in Him.

But that passion usually exceeds the new believer’s preparedness to preach. Without a tested and proven faith, and without a strong understanding of Scripture—or any training in how to study and understand it—new believers should not assume leadership positions in the church.

Nor should they launch into ministry simply because “God told me to.” To the undiscerning, that might be a persuasive argument. But God’s people have a responsibility not to blithely believe everyone who claims to speak for Him. Moreover, they need to hold the leaders they follow to biblical standards (which gets back to the original reason for this series).

via Leadership and Spiritual Maturity.

3 Decisions a Pastor Can Make That Will Help His Family | Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie FloydMy wife Jeana grew up in the home of a Pastor, and we have always worked hard together to ensure our family is our #1 priority following our personal commitment to Jesus Christ. To God’s glory, my wife did not ever resent the church as the wife of a pastor, and as our children grew, they did not ever resent the church. In fact, our church was our life!

The four of us loved the church and we still love the church! Our boys’ spouses love the church and they are now raising children who love the church!

How did we escape the testimony I often hear of pastor’s families resenting the church? By God’s grace and prayer. I also believe we made several decisions that moved us along toward a positive experience. I will note three of these decisions.

via 3 Decisions a Pastor Can Make That Will Help His Family | Ronnie Floyd.

Answers for Teachers 2015 | Around the World with Ken Ham

Ken HamWe are offering all teachers and educators an opportunity to earn a CEU while learning to defend God’s Word in the classroom. Get answers for yourself and your students at this year’s Answers for Teachers conference.

This exciting, information-packed event is being held at the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky on February 20, 2015, from 8 AM to 6 PM. You will hear from AiG’s Dr. Georgia Purdom, Dr. Terry Mortenson, Dr. Andrew Snelling, Dr. David Mention, Dan Lietha, Tim Chaffey, and Bryan Osborne. During the seven sessions you will learn about cell biology, evidence for a young earth, ape-men, the Resurrection, and so much more!

via Answers for Teachers 2015 | Around the World with Ken Ham.

Why It Matters That the Exodus Really Happened | Christianity Today

Christianity TodayNo less than Western law, the civil rights movement, and Christianity itself rest on the historicity of the biblical event.

Gregory Alan Thornbury/ February 3, 2015

Men at work, detail from the frescoes in the Tomb of Rekhmire, thought to depict Egyptians with Nubians and Semitic slaves.

Does it matter whether or not the Exodus of Moses actually took place? In a recent screed in Newsweek, Kurt Eichenwald mocked the historicity of the Bible, questioning whether or not it was even possible to understand Scripture’s meaning at all. Rebuttals to the piece appeared immediately and forcefully. I, for one, noted the irony that such a poorly researched article passed muster at a magazine that once featured stellar religion reporting under legendary editor Kenneth Woodward. The controversy over Eichenwald’s article served to remind us that the Bible’s truthfulness remains on the front burner of national debate.

via Why It Matters That the Exodus Really Happened | Christianity Today.

Old-Earth Compromisers: Preconceived Skepticism Shrouded in ‘Open-Mindedness’

Old-Earth Creationists, who accept the evidence-based claims that the earth is billions of years old, ought to honestly acknowledge that their view does not rest on natural evidence, but upon their own prior skeptical denial of creation by divine fiat (or, command). It is dishonest to put forth such a view as being based on the evidence. Without first denying that a miraculous creation by fiat might have occurred, they would have no basis for giving weight to any natural evidence. This doesn’t mean that they have properly thought this out and realized that they must first deny the plausibility of a miraculous creation by fiat; rather, for most of them, their preconceived skeptical denial remains unrecognized, like a hidden assumption.

To answer the question, How long ago did God create the world?, they immediately look—as a matter of course—to what the scientific evidence ‘reveals.’ Ostensibly, this supposes to give equal weight to all sources of truth, whether God’s revelation in Scripture or God’s revelation in the physical world (nature). However, the bias of the scales toward nature becomes evident: whenever the two (the plain reading of Scripture and natural evidence) seem to contradict, they never opt for reinterpreting natural evidence in light of the inerrant Scripture, but always insist on reinterpreting Scripture in light of the inerrant natural evidence (at least where creation is concerned). Continue reading