Thursday, August 6, 2020

My answers...


1. What does my level of theological knowledge say about my priorities in my own faith development?

By God's grace, at the time of my salvation (Jan, 1981), I was also called into the ministry. I remember, as a newly birthed believer, questioning my worthiness.  My home church pastor, Dale Ihrie, poked me in the chest and said "you do not have the right to question the worthiness of something God has claimed!"  It was my first theological lesson.  I'd like to say that my theological training at Princeton Seminary was soundly reformed, but it was largely tainted by the personal interests of the professors.  We read Luther, Calvin, Schleieremacher, Kant, Augustine Aquinas, A'Kempis, Bultmann, von Rad, and others, but Biblical Theology, what Paul taught or what Peter taught was never placed into a greater context of what I would call a solid Biblical Theology.  Theology was seen to be particular to the individual, not a Biblically cohesive position. It has only been through my reading of scripture and Bible studies with members of the congregations I have served, through prayer and observation that the theology of the Bible has truly been shaped and come to form my faith.  When I want to know what I should believe, I consult scripture, directly, and assume that the plain sense of a passage is the clear intent of the passage. These are simple words for everyday people seeking Godly wisdom.

2. What kind of theological error or inconsistency do I see around me?

The most pernicious and consistent theological error I see is what I would call a socialized theology. Within the church there are social conservatives and social progressives.  Those whose faith is  shaped by their standing on social issues, rather than their standing on social issues being shaped by their theology. One camp believes abortion is wrong and so they claim that as a Christian perspective, that conservativism is right and assume God supports a particular party.  The other camp believes that social justice is necessary and sets about tearing scripture from its context to make their point.  All eisegetical nonsense.  The other pernicious theological error I see is the radical individualism rampant in America that seems to say, no one has the right to tell me what to believe. Scripture clearly teaches that some are called to be apostles, some evangelists, some prophets, preachers and teachers. Yet too many "church goers" seem to exist on a Sunday School level of theology, refusing to take the time to read scripture and study scripture, take to heart what is spoken from the pulpit (if indeed they even have a believing pastor), as well as theological books, and instead wasting their time on television shows and reading literary drivel, socializing with friends, engaging in sporting nonsense and worthless cultural activities. Sunday is seen as an hour or two commitment to listening (but not hearing) to someone else. Bible Studies might involve 15 minutes of reading in preparation for the class only to end up sharing an opinion on what the passage might mean, while our secular professions occupy hours of labor and reading and classes for professional advancement which do nothing in our preparation for eternity.  The bottom line in all of this is that our faith is seen as a minor portion of our lives, a vehicle worthy of only a limited investment of our time and effort.  And largely our faith development is retarded accordingly. This is why people grieve so bitterly over sickness, and death, and suffering, and oppression. There is no sense of God's majesty, of God's Sovereignty. No sense of the joy of eternity. No theology of life!

3. How do I graciously address these?

Not very well. I find it difficult to see people spending so much time, so much money, so much talent on things that neither advance the Kingdom, nor proclaim the truth of scripture.  Faith seems something that people really don't want to (not can't) take the time to develop.

While I should feel sorrow and compassion, I tend to feel resentment and disdain for those who call themselves Christian but fail to address the radical nature of the call to a;ways be prepared to give a defense for why we believe.

4. How do I respond when others attempt to point out theological errors or inconsistencies in my life?

I like to think that I question them thoroughly, receive any constructive criticism willingly, and process it accordingly.  But quite honestly, I can't think of the last time someone challenged my theology, except in the ordination and calling process.

5. What is God saying to me about this?

I'm really not sure, just yet...I need to process this more...

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Chapter 15


1. What does my level of theological knowledge say about my priorities in my own faith development?

2. What kind of theological error or inconsistency do I see around me?

3. How do I graciously address these?

4. How do I respond when others attempt to point out theological errors or inconsistencies in my life?

5. What is God saying to me about this?

Monday, August 3, 2020

Briefest of Chapters...

As I reflect on this briefest of chapters in Tozer's book, I remember wondering why it was included in the book.. I've never come to a satisfactory conclusion, except that the need for Reformation continues.  It was not settled in the time of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc.  The need for reformation in churches that consider themselves Christian remains.

One of the rallying cries of the reformation was Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda. It's exact meaning has been debated over the years with most pointing to the tense of the verbs reformata and reformanda, the former being "reformed" the latter being "always being reformed" yielding the translation, "the church, having been reformed, is always being reformed."  And then the conversation sometimes morphs into either a progressive stream of "that is what we are doing, reforming or being reformed as in 'God has more light'," or a more traditional "God's Spirit continues to reform His church 'but never at odds with His revealed will in scripture.'"

Certainly the concept of an ongoing, perpetual sacrifice of Christ is clearly antithetical to the Biblical witness. However, when one remembers that in the Catholic faith, "Church Tradition" (Pontifical Pronouncements from the Throne of St. Peter) is placed alongside scripture as authoritative one begins to see the matter in a less than godly fashion.  In the Protestant stream that pairing of tradition and Biblical doesn't happen, or isn't supposed to happen...and yet...
So we are left to answer the question, "in what ways do we place tradition alongside scripture in authority?" "Or what do we do when our traditions are at odds with God's revealed will in scripture.?"

We have a strong emphasis on family ties and yet scripture says when it comes to faith and life the church is our primary family responsibility, those who obey Jesus, those who love Him are our brothers, sisters, and mothers.

We have a strong tradition of patriotism, but God's word says that we are to render unto Caesar those things which belong to Caesar and unto God that which is rightfully His.  Since we are created in His image, guess whom we serve singularly?
And so my mind goes.  I wonder what this strange little chapter elicits in your thinking?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Chapter 14

1. How has my faith become more of a reflection of the world than a judgment on the world (clothing styles/Fashion? Language? Lifestyle? Material Goods? Goals?)?

I live in a comfortable home, in a gated community, drive a newer car, attend a nice church, am safe, sleep well, and live quite satisfactorily. I dress well, with a good selection so clothing, everyone around me speaks the same language, so I am not challenged in that way. I live an average life, in an average American setting. Only my moral standards, preaching, and teaching cause me to stand out. But the typical person with whom I come into contact may not be aware that I am a believer. While I tend to reject ostentation, do not seek good income, or safety, neither am I terrible public in my announcement of God's judgement on the world and its self absorption.

2. How has the church I attend imitated the world?

Comfortable, well-dressed, well-paid, safe, Georgian architecture, nice safe building with security build in and scheduled, people focus on sports, restaurants, social activities similar to nonbelievers, seek comfort, ease, safety, and well-being, worry about health, retirement, rest, time off...

3. How has the family/living environment/workplace/social setting in which I currently exist become too attached to the world?

By seeking approval from neighbors, friends, family. Compliments to acquire social capital rather than exhorting to advance the Kingdom. Self interest, keeping up with the Jones's, lack of sacrifice, marginal commitment to faith and greater commitment to a political perspective. Worships American Federalism/Form of Gov't, and assumed historical narrative of "Christian Nation." BUT MOSTLY BY THINKING WE CAN MAKE USE OF THE THE THINGS OF THIS WORLD WITHOUT BE USED BY THE WORLD TO APPLAUD ITSELF.

4. How can I be more “in the world” and yet less “worldly”?

I am currently seeking a setting that would compel greater sacrifice, allow a more bold demonstration of my faith, and an increased level of service for the Kingdom.

5. What is God saying to me about this?

Consider carefully my next steps!

Tozer: The Size of the Soul

“Secularized fundamentalism is a horrible thing, a very horrible thing, much worse in my opinion than honest modernism or outright atheism. It’s all a kind of heart heterodoxy existing along with creedal orthodoxy. Its true master may be discovered by noting whom it admires and imitates.”

Secularized fundamentalism seems to be an apt description of what we are experiencing in the USA today. Protests, riots, looting, anger, vitriol seem to surround this secular fundamentalism which decries “homphobia” or “transphobia,” “systemic racism,” and other artificially construed enemies as a means of cutting off appropriate discussion through false accusation.

It posits a fabricated “orthodoxy” (right belief) which requires a manipulative orthopraxis (right practice) in order too enslave modern day sensibilities. Reasonable discussion is denied. Contrary opinions are unwelcome. Logic is absent. Accusations, gaslighting, and downright dishonesty advance the cause.

As if to add fuel to the fire many of our self-described “progressive denominations” are replacing legitimate Christian orthodoxy with this secularized fundamentalism and proclaiming it from their pulpits as much as any compromised church in Germany did under Hitler’s leadership. Like sheep led to the slaughter their adherents are consuming mass quantities of this pseudo theological kool-aid churchianity to the glory of the father of lies.

I think, in particular of my own former denomination the PC(USA)  which seems so lost along these lines. While there are still faithful leaders and congregational members, the General Assembly seems to consistently cower before the culture and bow before the altar of this secularized fundamentalism.

Tozer directs us: “What is the remedy? It is simple. A radical return to New Testament Christianity both in message and method. A bold repudiation of the world and a taking up of the cross. Such a return on any wide scale will mean a reformation of vast proportion.”

Hence my own personal, and I hope your desire, for renewal, for revivial. And frankly, I’m beginning to wonder if COVID19 might just be a means God might use to move us forward toward that end.

I wonder, how may are willing, as Tozer asks, to “pay the price”?

Just more "wonderings" as I process this chapter. Your thoughts?

My answers...

Questions: 1. What does my level of theological knowledge say about my priorities in my own faith development? By God's grace...