John Henry’s Homiletics Lesson

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John Henry Passing The Bart at Arlington

I was reminded today of an incident from my college days. I was traveling with a group of students, and we spent a day at the Kentucky Horse Farm in Lexington, a thoroughbred-themed tourist attraction. Among the residents was the storied champion John Henry, an accomplished gelding who was living out his retirement in Lexington.

John Henry was a remarkable horse. As a colt he appeared unlikely to ever be a champion; he was stubborn, undersized, and poorly formed. He surprised everyone and was eventually voted horse of the year in 1981 and 1984 – the latter at the surprising age of nine. He was popularly believed to be an unusually intelligent horse; in fact his stubbornness had been harnessed, not eliminated. Continue reading

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A Response to Jeffrey Riddle

trumpetIn the August 17 edition of the Reformed Baptist Trumpet Pastor Jeffrey Riddle of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Charlottesville, VA reviewed Holding Communion Together. In light of the controversy which has greeted this book, I appreciate the restrained tone of this review. While critical, Pastor Riddle did not make wild accusations and for the most part avoided imputing motives to us. Appreciating this, I thought that a response to the points made in his review might prove beneficial. Continue reading

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Constructive Criticism

When David Dykstra and I set out to write Holding Communion Together, we knew that portions of it would be controversial.  Particularly, we knew that a certain sub-set of the non-associational churches would take issue with much of what we said.  Since publication, we have been waiting and hoping that someone of mature and respectable stature within that sub-set of churches would provide us with a thoughtful and articulate review of our work.

We were therefore very grateful last weekend to receive the following review, courtesy of Pastor Paul K. Christianson of Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Clarkston, Washington: Continue reading

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Defining the Incomprehensible

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That Which Cannot Be Defined

One of the most fascinating descriptions of sanctuary design which I have heard came from an unbelieving architect hired to design a new facility for a Reformed Baptist church. After meeting with various members and officers, interviewing them about their beliefs, their concerns and their architectural theories, he concluded, “So we’re trying to point to something which ultimately cannot be defined, right?”

Far from making a post-modern statement about the know-ability of truth, he was approaching a matter of great importance in Christian theology. The Christian can never define God, because definition requires absolute comprehension. To define God, we would need to know the limits of His essence, and He has no limits. That which is infinite may only be described; it can never be dissected. Continue reading

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New Calvinism: Conclusions

A few weeks ago I began blogging about the phenomenon which is called “New Calvinism.” The immediate impetus for this series was an article from Iain Murray of Banner of Truth on the Together for the Gospel Conference. I, too, have been encouraged by the gatherings of so many Christians in which old literature is read, old hymns are sung, and old doctrine is preached. However, I am deeply concerned by statements such as this:

‘New Calvinist’ too easily suggests some kind of departure from ‘the Old’. But what is now occurring in many parts of the United States can patently be seen to have sprung out of what is far from new. It is no more ‘new’ than the doctrine that was heard under Whitefield and Edwards in the 1740s, or later, under Spurgeon or Lloyd-Jones. What was supposed to be ‘as dead as Queen Anne’ is very much alive in what is happening today. Old authors are being read more eagerly than for a long time, yet it is not the literature, significant as it is, which can account for what is happening.

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New Calvinism and Orthodoxy

As I have written about the New Calvinism, some have commented to the effect that it is wrong of me to write about the problems inherent in the new movement without first saying what is good about it. I suppose I could reply in simple and curmudgeonly fashion that the “Calvinism” part is good, while everything “New” about it is bad – which wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

Underlying this charge is the assumption that the New Calvinism is essentially a good thing. I increasingly find myself reading the critiques of Calvinism from outside the Reformed camp – written by bloggers and others who really don’t know anything but the New Calvinism – and agreeing with them! Calvinism as it is known to many today is fraught with theological danger, although I would insist that the problem isn’t the Calvinism so much as the New! At some point we need to ask the question: Is New Calvinism even a reliably orthodox movement? Continue reading

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Of Mark Jones, Baptism, and Poor Hymnody…

I hate to interrupt the conversation on New Calvinism, but the guys over at The Confessing Baptist asked me if I had any thoughts on Mark Jones’ post this week on Baptism.  Of course I did, and you can read them hereContinue reading

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