Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On Limited Atonement and John Calvin

"You know John Calvin did not hold to Limited Atonement." This was the statement that was made to me as I sat at dinner during a conference not long ago. Most of the people who attend a conference in which I have the honor of speaking know that I am an unashamed 5 point Calvinist. The thing about having written a book is that people think they know what you think without having to ask or get to know you. So, the gentleman very politely and graciously sat down next to me, and before he could take a bite made a statement that he thought would challenge my view of Limited Atonement, or at least make me think twice about it. What he must not have considered is that I had already thought twice about it. In fact, I have thought 7 times 70 times about it, and will continue to think about it until the Lord sees fit to take my thoughts of faith and make them sight.
Nevertheless, as I pondered his statement between bites of dinner, I knew he was eager for my response. So I looked at him and responded. I did not want to come across as totally disregarding his study of this matter, for I knew that he had probably read some very learned people with whom he agreed. Nevertheless, he was looking for a response and this is the one I gave him. I told the gentlemen that there are three things I would say to that statement.
1. I don't believe that John Calvin disagreed with Limited Atonement. Most people will look at Calvin's Institute and conclude that Calvin had little or nothing to say about the design of the atonement being only for the the elect. However, as Roger Nicole has made clear, the scope of Calvin's theology is more than the Institutes and when you read his commentaries and correspondences you read one who understood the implications of election and the sacrifice necessary for their salvation. Read Nicole on Calvin's View.
2. For me, it was not John Calvin who settled the issue of Limited Atonement, but rather another John, namely John Owen. In his well known treatise on the doctrine of Limited Atonement, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, John Owen set forth biblical and theological arguments for a particular redemption that have stood the test of time. I have the utmost respect for John Calvin, but John Owen, as a theologian, takes a back seat to no one.
3. Lastly, though John Owen and John Calvin are incomparable theologians, ultimately I believe Limited Atonement because the Bible clearly teaches it, both explicitly and implicitly: Matt 1:21; John 6:35-40; 10:11-18; Eph. 5:25; Heb. 7:27; et al.
After I had spoken my peace, I am not sure if I had convinced him of my position, but one thing is for sure, the conversation quickly turned to the delightful buffet meal we both were enjoying. Discussions of Limited Atonement and seemingly limitless southern comfort is my kind of conference.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Holy Ambition

For our Family Worship time tonight, I shared with my family this excerpt from a sermon by John Piper in which he described the need for kids (and all of us) to understand our need to develop A Holy Ambition. Without a doubt, the thing that I see most needful in my own church fellowship is a desire and a drive to want to go and do for the Lord. We have a tendency, particularly among African-American Christians, to desire a comfortable, easy, prosperous life because such things were not easily afforded to our parents and grandparents. Most African-American Christians I know are faithful church goers but have little desire for sacrificial living or giving. Their conversations are not about ambitions for the Kingdom of God, but rather about establishing monetary kingdoms on this earth. There is very little contemplation of giving up this world in anticipation of the next. There is little to no talk of Holy Ambitions. Once again, Piper has reminded us that we need to all have a Holy Ambition for God.
What are you desiring to do that God also desires you to do? What are you desiring to do that will cause you to be uncomfortable, unsafe, and even uneasy because it requires more faith than you are accustomed to exercising? What kingdom mission are you on for the Master of the Kingdom?
These are just a few of the questions that I am challenged with this evening. I will have more thoughts along this line soon. Until then, watch this excerpt from John and if you are so moved, watch the entire message at the link above.

Note: If you are reading this post and are a member of Southwest Christian Fellowship, don't be surprised if you hear from me in the near future words that reflect John's sentiments in this message. I can't speak for all churches, but I do know that our church needs to hear this. You need to hear this.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Glory of the Gospel Radio

Our brother Michael Leach, pastor of All Saints Redeemer Church in the Atlanta area, has begun a new venture. He and Keith Tolbert have started a weekly radio broadcast on WNIV 970 in Atlanta GA. The broadcast is called The Glory of the Gospel. It airs on Sundays from 9:30 - 10:00 AM. WNIV is the most listened to Christian Talk Radio station in Atlanta and features all of the usual nationally known suspects (i.e. John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, RC Sproul, and many others). If you are in the Atlanta area, you can listen to Mike and Keith on your radio. If you are not in Atlanta, no worry, WNIV broadcasts live on the internet, so you can turn on to their webpage and listen at 9:30 AM eastern time as well.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Celebrating the Differences

Recently our brother Thabiti had a Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus moment with his wife. Here is one that I recently heard from Love and Respect author Emerson Eggerichs:

When a man looks into the closet and says, "I have nothing to wear." He means I have nothing clean. When a woman looks into the closet and says, "I have nothing to wear." She means she has nothing new.

Man, how many times have my wife and I had that exchange of differing perspectives. Are you feeling me?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

True Church Conference

Recently, a couple of our men travelled to Muscle Shoals, AL to attend the True Church Conference held at First Baptist of Muscle Shoals. The theme of the conference was The Miracle of Conversion. They returned, may I say in a word, changed. They were changed in heart because they saw even better the glories of God in their own salvation and conversion. They were changed in mind as they were challenged to make sure that their and our witnessing and discipling practices are biblical and reflect a trust in God and a desire for His glory alone. They brought back with them the messages on CD. I have listened to them and I have only one word to say, "Amen." If you are so inclined, and I pray that you are, you will want to get a set of these messages and prayerfully consider their content.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Redmond for VP

No, Barak Obama has not chosen his running mate. Rather, our brother and friend, Eric Redmond will be nominated for second VP of the Southern Baptist Convention. Those of us who know Eric are not surprised. Eric is a brother of geniune and humble convictions. I am always encouraged when I hear from him or read something he wrote. I pray God would be gracious to us and put Eric in this position of influence. And yet, whether he receives the appointment or not, I rejoice at the pending nomination because it serves as further evidence that God is moving by His Spirit and doing an awakening work in His church. I continue to marvel at what God is doing and how He is allowing us to be used in His doing it. Soli Deo Gloria!

Today the Vice President...Tomorrow.....well, let's just see about the Vice Presidency first.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Yolanda Sought Her Own Legacy

Yolanda King sought her own legacy in Los Angeles. But did she ever get away from her father's shadow? Could anyone? I think not.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

On Jerry Falwell

The blogosphere is buzzing with reaction to the life and death of Jerry Falwell. Here are some comments ranging from Billy Graham to Larry Flynt (can't get much more ranging than that).

Also, if you have not already, check out the commentaries of our brothers Lance Lewis and Eric Redmond.

Monday, May 14, 2007

FIRE National Conference

This evening opens the National Conference for the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (FIRE). The conference is hosted by Faith Bible Church in Sharpsburg, GA (just south of Atlanta). If you are in the area and would like to fellowship with brothers and sisters committed to Biblical theology and practice, come out and share in this conference. It promises to be a most encouraging and edifying time of worshiping God, hearing from His word, and communing with His people.

An Interview on WEB DuBois

Eric Redmond, our brother at A Man from Issachar, has conducted an interview with author and scholar, Edward J. Blum on Blum's book WEB DuBois: An American Prophet.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Prophet not so Prophetic

John Blake, an excellent journalist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, has written an article entitled, Pastor Inspiration: Divine or Online. He begins the article with an indictment of one of the most well-known pulpit personalities in the country, namely Eddie Long of New Birth Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. Apparently, Mr. Long recently acquired a sermon online concerning the Virginia Tech shootings and preached a good portion of it on the following Sunday morning at New Birth. This form of plagiarism, as many of us know, is not new. Preachers have been stealing sermons from other preachers for as long as anyone can remember. However, with the advent of the internet, this form of plagiarism has been taken to another level. Also, with such personalities as Eddie Long, this incident adds another dimension because Mr. Long claims to speak prophetically so often. When Mr. Long speaks from now on, or at least until he clears us these accusations of plagiarism and repents of it, it would seem that reasonable people would be suspect of any of his so-called, Holy Spirit-inspired words. But then again, who said that New Birth was filled with reasonable people.
According to the article, there are those at New Birth who find nothing wrong with Mr. Long's apparent plagiarism. According to Blake:
Yet some New Birth members weren't bothered that Bishop Long preached without attribution. Ben Jakes, a New Birth elder, said Long's Virginia Tech sermon revealed that God can orchestrate circumstances so that preachers deliver the same message across the nation. "I really believe it's an act that shows honor and respect for [God]," Jakes said. "You're basically communicating a unified message."
It would appear, once again, that Mr. Long can do no wrong. I am saddened that men in the predominantly African-American church can get away with so much without anyone bringing them into account for their actions. And yet, I am not surprised because we have moved away from the glory of God and have settled comfortably upon the glory of men. Too many so called churches are personality driven and not Glory of God driven. And sadly, Mr. Long is one of the largest personalities around. Many people would prefer to lose the glory of God rather than lose the glory of their so-called bishop or pastor. In fact sadly many of them have.
If God was not sovereign and thus I was not a Calvinist, I might be tempted to find some shaded tree and hide myself from the foolishness that is often the church and wait until God had finished His judgment. But since I am a Calvinist and do trust in the absolute Sovereignty of God, I thank Him for his judgment even as he is shaking the trees and exposing the fruitless works of those who would dupe and deceive in His name. And I thank God for the reminder for me to be all the more diligent in spending time with Him and in His word.
Also, I commend John Blake for his efforts. I pray he will continue to write with boldness in a city that is strong on Eddie Long and filled with Eddie Long wannabes.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Blaque Tulip is in the House

Our brother Lance Lewis has made the plunged and join us on the blogosphere. Lance is made for this format. I am sure he will make sure we have stirring commentary on many issues, particularly as they relate to black people and biblical theology. In fact, here is how he describes his blogging approach over at Blaque Tulip (that fits Lance to a tee):

I’m sure you can tell by the title of this blog that I hold to that nettlesome and many say outdated theology commonly defined as Reformed, Covenantal or Calvinistic. I embraced biblical theology not in seminary or through listening to those who promoted it, but by God’s grace through my own study of Scripture. Upon adopting biblical theology I was finally able to get off the gospel roller coaster. Thank God I no longer lived and related to God by what I felt. Though I’m still growing and have a long way to go (as my wife will testify to) I praise God that I can grow knowing that my eternal soul isn’t in the balance. Trust me, not knowing where one stands with the Holy One of the universe who describes Himself as a consuming fire is not a comfortable feeling.Reformed theology is biblical theology, God glorifying theology, Christ exalting theology, beautiful theology and life-saving theology. The purpose of BlackTulip.com is to reflect on how that theology impacts our lives and culture with a special emphasis on African-Americans.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Is Globing Warming A Crisis

Here is a very interesting and timely debate on whether of not Global Warming is a Crisis. Before you jump on the bandwagon with all the "glamorous, hypocritical Hollywood types," listen to this debate from National Public Radio. The discussion was good, informed, whimsical, and even entertaining. The audience was polled prior to and following the debate. The results did not surprise me. According to NPR:

In this debate, the proposition was: "Global Warming Is Not a Crisis." In a vote before the debate, about 30 percent of the audience agreed with the motion, while 57 percent were against and 13 percent undecided. The debate seemed to affect a number of people: Afterward, about 46 percent agreed with the motion, roughly 42 percent were opposed and about 12 percent were undecided.

Whosoever will...?

How would you encourage your church to handle this difficult issue?


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

There's a New Blogger in Town!

Let us welcome Eric Redmond to the blogosphere! Eric is the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church. You may remember him from the interview he did a few weeks ago for Thabiti. Eric is a sharp and engaging brother. I am sure (almost overly confident) that we will glean much from his posts as he challenges us with his wisdom and analysis. Bookmark his blog, A Man from Issachar. Visit this brother frequently and let him know that we thank God that we have "one from Issachar" among us.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New President at Morehouse

The most prominent of the historical black colleges is getting a new president. Dr. Robert Franklin, theology and ethics professor at Emory University's Candler School of Theology and Morehouse alum, is scheduled to become the next president of Morehouse College in Atlanta GA. You may remember Franklin for his critical and insightful comments following the Coretta Scott King funeral. Apparently, those at Morehouse are looking to return to the spiritual roots of Benjamin E. Mays and Howard Thurman as they tag a man who has more theological credentials. Franklin's latest book is Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African-American Communities. You can read an interview with Dr. Franklin here. I wonder if this change in leadership will mean a shift in the spiritual atmosphere around The House. It could. But then again, as Charles Barkley would say, "I doubt it."