You have probably heard or maybe even recited the words "one holy catholic and apostolic church." But what does that statement from the Nicene Creed mean and is it true? What does the Bible teach about the church? Is it any place where multiple Christians are assembled or is there more to it?
Tuesday, February 18 is when we will discuss these questions and engage chapter 17 of Pilgrim Theology. Come eager and ready to dialogue.
*We will continue discussing chapter 17 and the church on Tuesday, February 25.
We did it! After two weeks of discussing baptism, we had an altar call and everyone present is now a Baptist, well, sort of and sort of not. Seriously though, we are moving on and will be discussing the second part of chapter 16 in Pilgrim Theology which deals with the Lord's Supper. So come ready to discuss pp.374-386 on Tuesday, February 11th.
On an entirely different note and to prove that even "Baptists" can learn a thing or two from others, I can't recommend this message on antinomianism and neonomianism with more enthusiasm. It is a "must" watch/listen.
With so much good conversation about baptism on 1.28, we will continue with the topic on 2.4.14. So it will be a re-read Pilgrim Theology, chapter 16. If this doesn't wet your thirst enough, may I suggest some good theology from Baptist John Bunyan. Some of that can be found here.
What's the Clash got to do with theology for breakfast? Besides London Calling being the leader's most memorable concert, the LONDON Baptist Confession of 1689 points us to a helpful contrast to Mike Horton's instruction on baptism and communion. Thus the "baptizing" of 80s alternative rock for your edification. Below are the entries of the confession that reflect a baptistic counterpoint to what we read in Pilgrim Theology. For Tuesday, January 28 we will discuss chapter 16.
28. Baptism and the Lord's Supper
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in His Church to the end of the world.
These holy appointments are to be administered only by those who are qualified and called to administer them, according to the commission of Christ.
Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be to the person who is baptised - a sign of his fellowship with Christ in His death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into Christ; of remission of sins; and of that person's giving up of himself to God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
Those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects for this ordinance.
The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, in which the person is to be baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Immersion - the dipping of the person in water - is necessary for the due administration of this ordinance.
30. The Lord's Supper
The Supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by Him the same night on which He was betrayed to be observed in His churches until the end of the world for the perpetual remembrance, and showing forth of the sacrifice of Himself in His death. It was also instituted by Christ to confirm believers in all the benefits of His death; - for their spiritual nourishment and growth in Him; - for their further engagement in and commitment to all the duties which they owe to Him; - and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Him and with their fellow believers.
In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to His Father, nor is there any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin (of the living or the dead). There is only a memorial of that one offering up of Christ by Himself upon the cross once for all, the memorial being accompanied by a spiritual oblation of all possible praise to God for Calvary. Therefore, the popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominable, being injurious to Christ's own sacrifice, which is the only propitiation for all the sins of the elect.
The Lord Jesus has, in this ordinance, appointed His ministers to pray and bless the elements of bread and wine (so setting them apart from a common to a holy use) and to take and break the bread, then to take the cup, and to give both to the communicants, also communicating themselves.
The denial of the cup to the people, the practices of worshipping the elements, lifting them up or carrying them about for adoration, or reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this ordinance, and to the institution of Christ.
The outward elements in this ordinance which are correctly set apart and used as Christ ordained, so closely portray Him as crucified, that they are sometimes truly (but figuratively) referred to in terms of the things they represent, such as the body and blood of Christ. However in substance and nature they still remain truly and only bread and wine as they were before.
The doctrine commonly called transubstantiation, which maintains that a change occurs in the substance of the bread and wine into the substance of Christ's body and blood, when consecrated by a priest or by any other way, is repugnant not only to Scripture but even to common sense and reason. It overthrows the nature of the ordinance, and both has been and is the cause of a host of superstitions and of gross idolatries.
Worthy receivers, outwardly taking the visible elements in this ordinance, also receive them inwardly and spiritually by faith, truly and in fact, but not carnally and corporally, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of His death. The body and blood of Christ is not present corporally or carnally but it is spiritually present to the faith of believers in the ordinance, just as the elements are present to their outward senses.
All ignorant and ungodly persons who are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ are equally unworthy of the Lord's Table, and therefore cannot without great sin against Him, take a share in these holy mysteries or be admitted to the Supper while they remain in that condition. Indeed those who receive (the elements) unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgement to themselves.
Now that we have been glorified (already and not yet!), chapter 15 is in view. Word and Sacraments is the title and what you will want to read and be ready to discuss for Tuesday, January 21st. On a different note, here is the link for the conference on Sanctification that was mentioned 1.14.14.
We are taking two weeks off, not meeting 12.24 and 12.31. For 1.7.14 be ready to discuss chapter 13 entitled "Sanctification and Perseverance." In the meantime, here is an interesting audio follow up to our conversation on justification (if you are interested in something a bit more heady).
If it is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls, justification by faith alone in the completed work of Christ alone will be front and center of battle after battle as the church earnestly contends for the faith. So let's read ch.12 like it really matters because in fact it does. Pages 279-301 of Pilgrim Theology for 12.17.13.
"The Spirit and the Kingdom" (ch.9) is up next and will be discussed 11.19. If you are itching for some follow up on today's extent of the atonement conversation, here's a paper I wrote a while back that marks my transition to embracing an atonement that atones.
Did Jesus make propitiation possible or did he actually make propitiation? That's a big question with big implications and we will be discussing it as we talk about the extent of the atonement on Tuesday, November 12. Read pp.208-228 of Horton's Pilgrim Theology where the topic of ascension will also be covered.
"General atonement is like a great wide bridge with only half an arch; it does not go across the stream: it only professes to go half way; it does not secure the salvation of anybody" (Spurgeon).
Here's the Al Mohler address delivered at BYU that I referenced Nov. 5. It is a great example of tactful truth telling that does not compromise. HT to Chad Hansen for sending the link.
And now for the crux of the matter which is the work of Christ! Both the active and passive obedience of Christ are in view in the first half or so of ch.8 (pp.191-208). We will cover this on Tuesday, November 5th. We will NOT be discussing the whole chapter. Such grand themes considering the grandeur of the grand one, Jesus Christ, the righteous!
We will only be reading the first half of chapter 7 for Tuesday, Oct. 22. That's pp.159-174. If you already read the whole thing, congratulations. Now you can feel like an overachiever. As a follow up to last week's discussion on depravity, Mike H. reminded me of this clip from Piper. Enjoy.
The fall will be our topic on Tuesday, October 15th (pp.131-157). It is just SLIGHTLY IMPORTANT (read sarcasm). So get through the chapter, ponder, and come ready for engagement and edification among spiritual brothers. And remember that one's view of the first Adam will have an important relationship to one's view of the last Adam, Jesus.
Given our discussion of the Trinity, does this sound orthodox or heterodox?
There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
If you said "heterodox," you chose right as such a statement is modalistic and therefore at odds with the Christian religion. Odd then that some evangelicals dote on T.D. Jakes where the confession comes from.
Chapter 5 of Pilgrim Theology is on tap for next Tuesday. See you then!
We are off and running with week two under our belts. So glad we can stir one another up with discussion of God's gracious revelation of Himself. Next week it is chapter two of Pilgrim Theology: God's Written Word (pp.51-77). Already looking forward to it! If you can handle some satire that makes a great point, watch the video. If you are easily offended, watch it, get offended, and then forgive me for recommending something that offended you.
In light of our discussions Tuesday, we know that even fundamentalist atheist Richard Dawkins is a theologian. After all, everyone has beliefs about God regardless of how out of touch such beliefs are with reality. With an aim toward aligning our understanding with reality, our discussion Tuesday, Sept. 10 will be "Knowing God" (chapter one of Horton's Pilgrim Theology). Read the chapter and engage in the discussion.
The next installment of Theology for Breakfast is about to break. So why miss some precious sleep to talk theology with other guys on Tuesday mornings at 6:30? One of the countless reasons to join Theology for Breakfast is because Jesus wants you to attend. OK, not exactly, but in a roundabout way. According to our Lord, each of us is to love God with all of our faculties, including our minds. This is worship. This is avoiding idolatry. This is right thinking paving the way for right acting. This is a good idea! So secure a copy of Pilgrim Theology by Mike Horton, read the opening section (pp.14-23), anticipate the superb aroma of Peet’s coffee, and show up at Omaha Bible Church Tuesday morning, September 3rd to engage.
Its time for a summer break so we are "closed for business." But make no mistake, we will be back at it in the fall. Stay tuned for a text selection and remember one thing this summer: Everyone's a theologian, some are good ones and others are not.
This article is a helpful critique of Keswick theology oft associated with "let go and let God" philosophy. Props to Jeremy Brick for pointing it out to me. You may recognize names like Ryrie, Walvoord, Wesley, Griffith Thomas, etc.
Discussing chapter 7 of Holiness by Grace on Tuesday, May 30th. Hope to see you then.
Chapter five of Holiness by Grace is an excellent treatment of what obedience should and should not look like in the Christian life. Appreciated the fruitful discussion of the chapter! As a follow up to our conversation, here is the discussion of Lent by Ligon Duncan. This is yet another case of needing to know something about history and historical theology before jumping on the "trendianity" bandwagon. The liturgical calendar may be older than so much of what pop culture offers, but it isn't old enough to be biblical not to mention Protestant. Adding extra requirements, holidays or anything else, are not aids in our spiritual growth. Chapter 6 of Holiness by Grace is on tap for 4.23. See you then!
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses.
We are moving right along in Holiness by Grace on Tuesday mornings. Discussion is better than ever. Ch.5 is up for Tues, April 16.
"Apart from me you can do nothing" are important words from Jesus. They are words to live by (in more ways than one!). Therefore it is crucial that we sinners do not simply "try harder." Read chapter two of Holiness by Grace in Chapell for Tuesday, March 26th. Not too late to join us men!
Spiritual growth that is authentic cannot be contrived, conjured, or bought. But we need it! So where does it come from and how can we get our hands on it? Our Tuesday morning quest is for growth in godliness and Brian Chapell is giving us some help. Secure a copy of Holiness by Grace at the OBC bookstore or the Kindle version here and have chapter one read for Tuesday, March 19th. Newcomer's welcome to this men's group.
"God has not been so sparing to men to make them barely two-legged creatures, and left it to Aristotle to make them rational" (John Locke). Oh, wait, the dude from Lost didn't say that, it was the guy from the 17th century. Silly me. But you will find that quote in the reading for next time and it will deal with loss of reason. Instead of reading from Pushing the Antithesis for Tuesday, March 5, please read Tools for Apologetics by Bahnsen (parts one and two). These also appear in his book Always Ready which I have found to be a much more readable book than the one we have been working through. As always, come ready for some edifying discussion.
The next book will be Holiness by Grace by Brian Chapell. It is a helpful and hopeful change from a "just do more" and "just try harder" approach to spiritual growth. One line from the intro will give you a good taste--"True grace produces joy and promotes godliness" (13). Looking forward to learning more together about such grace!
No reading for Tuesday, February 26th. What, no reading?!?! That's right, theology for breakfast can be productive, though slightly less, without bound paper and ink. We will watch the second half of Collision: Is Christianity Good for the World? and discuss apologetic methodology.
Excellent exchange of thoughts regarding world views, apologetics, and Acts 17 this morning (2.5.13). If you missed it, you can get a taste on pp.85-92 of Pushing the Antithesis. A great follow up resource is this audio from D.A. Carson (talks he gave at OBC in 2002). Next week we will look at chapter 6, Worldviews in Collision where antithesis is highlighted. We will also discuss responses to the objection "But I do not believe the world was created." Give it some thought.
Constructive discussion was had at our last meeting discussing the condition of the unbeliever (chapter 2). Romans 1 and Ephesians 4 aided us in identifying the hostility of mind characteristic of the unbeliever as opposed to neutrality. Tuesday January 22 will consider chapter three entitled Defining Worldviews (pp.41-53).
Given my inability to elaborate upon 2 Corinthians 10 "on the spot," I have included a sample of a technical commentary on the passage. It is more than most of you will want to know, but nevertheless I thought you might benefit from it and perhaps enjoy a taste of a resource dealing with the Greek text.
"Paul’s second example of his “demolition of strongholds” is his overthrow of “every proud obstacle that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” In an abstract sense ὕψωμα means “height” (Rom. 8:39) or “exaltation” (Job 24:24; Jdt. 10:8). Applied to physical military defenses, it refers to “what is lofty,” a “fortress with high towers” (G. Bertram, TDNT 8.614), or a “rampart” (Moffatt). Related to such usage is the metaphorical sense of “arrogant attitude” (Thrall 597), “towering conceit” (Isaacs), “presumptuous notion” (NJB), “proud obstacle” (RSV, NRSV). Reinforcing the notion of literal or figurative “elevation” that is intrinsic to ὕψωμα is the present participle ἐπαιρόμενον (from ἐπαίρω, “raise up”), which is not middle but passive, whether it means “ (that is) raised up”/“erected” or “that rises up/raises itself up.” This ὕψωμα is no neutral “lofty thing”; it is set up or sets itself up “against” or “in defiance of” (κατά) the authentic knowledge of God. Standing between λογισμούς and γνώσεως, the expression πᾶν ὕψωμα is likely to refer to every type (πᾶν) of idea or argument that is capable of preventing people from arriving at true and emancipating knowledge, the knowledge of God (τοῦ θεοῦ, objective genitive) through the gospel of Christ. There is a contrast between certain λογισμοί which must be overthrown and ἡ γνῶσις τοῦ θεοῦ which must be promoted, between impersonal argumentation and personal knowledge, and between false and true knowledge. Paul’s campaign strategy was not to ignore, dismiss, or ridicule his opponents’ ideas and arguments, but to “demolish” (καθαιρέω) them by exposing their fallacies. For him such demolition was indistinguishable from God’s “thwarting” of “the cleverness of the clever” (1 Cor. 1:19, citing Isa. 29:14). In speaking of his καθαίρεσις of λογισμοί and πᾶν ὕψωμα, Paul is certainly not denigrating rational thought and logical argumentation. His own letters are replete with careful and convincing argument. It is not “reasoning” as such that is attacked here but fallacious reasoning and conceited argument" (Murray J. Harris, 2 Corinthians).
We are off Dec.25 and Jan.1, but will launch a new book study Tuesday, January 8th. Pushing the Antithesis by Greg Bahnsen is our text and it will lead us into important discussions of apologetics. Christians are called to be ready to give a defense (an apologetic) for their hope (1 Peter 3:15). Sharpening our skills here is the aim. Pick up your copy of the book at the OBC bookstore. Thanks to the publisher for the great discount! If you would like to listen to Bahsen in debate action, you can listen here to what's called The Great Debate. Read chapter one for January 8th.
Just a few days ago I had the exciting opportunity to answer someone's questions about the gospel. It wasn't at church, it wasn't in a class, and it wasn't the time to pull up a theological textbook on my iPhone. It was the time to explain the truth about Jesus from the Bible. What prepared me? Certainly the Spirit of God was working and for Him I am thankful! But what also came into play was what I had grappled with, considered, and worked through in "the study." In other words, it was the hard work of studying that proved eminently practical in my opportunity to help someone and by so doing love them. The moral here is to find motivation to do the hard work of learning. Do the hard work of learning because it is worth the investment.
For Tuesday, December 18 we have an article that you will likely find difficult. But given that it is about the important matter of Christ's righteousness being credited to the believer so that we might be justified, it is well worth the effort! The essay is Do This and Live by R. Scott Clark. Pick up your copy at the OBC bookstore if you have not already and make the investment in learning. Do it for your edification, for the love of your neighbor, and for the glory of Christ.
Charles Finney is credited with being a great evangelist. So it may just be a good idea to know a bit more about his theology. For our next meeting on December 11, we will discuss A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: How Charles Finney's Theology Ravaged the Evangelical Movement.The next full text we will dive into will be Pushing the Antithesis by Greg Bahnsen. The publisher cut us a great deal so I would suggest picking it up at OBC for $17. We will start the Bahnsen book 1.8.13.
While we may be sincere in saying that we have "no creed but Christ" and subscribe to no "man-made" system of theology like Calvinism or Arminianism, let's face the music. The music being that whatever we say about how God saves sinners ends up fitting into a historic theological category and ends up being associated with a particular "ism." So rather than pietistic sounding boasts of biblicism, there are times when it is helpful to see where one fits historically as we seek to be as biblical as we can be for the glory of Christ. This brings us to our next chapter in Warfield's The Plan of Salvation which is the chapter called Calvinism. Read the chapter for Tuesday, December 4th and be edified.
Will everyone be saved? While few who name the name of Christ would say yes given the realities of condemnation stressed by Jesus and other biblical writers, a type of evangelical universalism is alive and well nevertheless. Warfield exposes some such universalistic tendencies. Read the chapter on universalism for a better perspective on the saving work of God. See you Tuesday, November 27th! Thought the cartoon was pretty funny and somewhat related.
The next religious system evaluated by Warfield is sacerdotalism. Read chapter three of The Plan of Salvation and we will see you on Tuesday morning at 6:30. Resource Alert: To learn more about what we talked about at our last meeting, check out The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination which is available gratis online. See especially the chapter called "Total Inability." I commend the entire book as a great resource.
If nothing else, theology for breakfast is bound to broaden your vocabulary! Hopefully it is doing much more! Read chapter two on Autosoterism (self-salvation) for next week, November 13. It may also help to review the chart at the end of chapter 1 in the actual book. I leave you with this evaluation of Warfield by one of his theological foes: "Dr. Warfield had the finest mind ever to teach at
B.B. Warfield was affectionately known as "the Lion of Princeton." The moniker underscored his academic and theological prowess. Benjamin taught theology at Princeton from 1887 to 1921 where he seemingly never backed down from opportunities to promote and defend the truthfulness of Scripture, the supremacy of Christ, and gospel of sovereign grace. For the next five weeks we will work through The Plan of Salvation which is "A study of the basic and essential differences between various interpretations of the Christian religion" (the publisher). Have the first chapter ("Differing Conceptions") read for Tuesday, November 6th. The book is free here, 99 cents on Kindle, or available at the OBC bookstore.
When asked if the church or individual has a special responsibility during the presidential campaign, David VanDrunen responded with the following:
"I don’t think the church has any different responsibilities in an election year from what it has at any other time. The church should proclaim the whole counsel of God in Scripture (which includes, of course, teaching about the state, the value of human life, marriage, treatment of the poor, etc.). But Scripture does not set forth a political policy agenda or embrace a particular political party, and so the church ought to be silent here where it has no authorization from Christ to speak. When it comes to supporting a particular party, or candidate, or platform, or strategy—individual believers have the liberty to utilize the wisdom God gives them to make decisions they believe will be of most good to society at large. Politics constantly demands compromise, choosing between the lesser of evils, and refusing to let the better be the enemy of the good. Christians will make different judgments about these things, and the church shouldn’t try to step in and bind believers’ consciences on matters of prudence. It might be helpful to think of it this way: during times when Christians are bombarded with political advertisements, slogans, and billboards, how refreshing it should be, on the Lord’s Day, to step out of that obsession with politics and gather with God’s redeemed people to celebrate their heavenly citizenship and their bond in Christ that transcends all national, ethnic, and political divisions."
Discussion of issues related to the last chapter of Living in God's Two Kingdoms is on the agenda for Tuesday, October 30th. Hope to see you then.
Should the church engage in politics? In light of our
conversations this morning, here’s a statement that I find exceptional:
“The story of Christendom reminds us that the attempt to
Christianize the empires of this age is as easily described as the
secularization of the church” (Mike Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic
Theology for Pilgrims on the Way).
For next week, be WARNED. Education, Vocation, and
Politics are in view and VanDrunen just may rock your boat at times. Given the
stirring nature of the topics, we will take two weeks to cover the chapter. So
read chapter 7 (pp.161-205) and come ready. If you are just joining us, know
that you are welcome and that we are glad you are with us. Also know that it
would be very beneficial if you quickly reviewed the first six chapters of
Living in God’s Two Kingdoms. Apart from grasping the superstructure of
VanDrunen’s argument, we most likely will not be on the same page for
*The statue is of Constantine as head of the church and emperor bearing the sword giving us Christendom and resultant confusion.