A week ago I wrote about the problem of a modern conception of God who is far too human. In our desire for a God who is relatable we have begun to think of him as having emotions very much like human passions.
This is contrary to the old doctrine of the church as it was expressed in the Westminster, Savoy, and Second London Confessions, which all proclaim that God is “without body, parts, or passions.” Moreover, it is contrary to Scripture, which tells us that God’s love for His people is quite different from even the strongest human love in that divine love is changeless. In much the same way that God expresses Himself to us in anthropomorphic language even though we know He does not have a human body, so He expresses His love to us in human terms so that we might comprehend it. It would be a mistake, though, to imagine God with changing passions, just as it would be a mistake to imagine Him with hands or feet.
Apparently I exist – at least in South Carolina.
Last fall I wrote a post which severely annoyed a lot of basically nice people by asserting that I apparently don’t exist. I said I knew that I couldn’t exist because whenever any prominent Presbyterian speaks about Baptists, historic Baptists, or even “Reformed Baptists,” I get the feeling that 1689 confessional Reformed Baptists are simply not permitted as a topic of discussion. I like Presbyterians – really I do – but far too many of them lately have pretended that “Reformed Baptist” means Billy Graham with a light patina of soteriological Calvinism.
Actually NOT what Reformed Baptists Think!
God is our Father, but is He our Daddy? I understand that this has become a quite popular notion. “Abba” we are told, is not Aramaic for “Father,” so much as for “Daddy.” It invokes a father-and child relationship with God that is warm, comfortable, and very human. Many Christians want that relationship; they want such a God.
But let’s consider it for a moment in light of two passages – one that we naturally turn to when we want to express the parental affection of God, and then another that we naturally forget.
Except, mine never had the pink wedge.
When Trivial Pursuit first came out, I was always lost on the “entertainment” questions. I was just too young. I really didn’t know any movies or songs from much before 1980, so the questions the game was asking may as well have been written in Swahili. At one point I seemed to draw an inordinate number of questions to which the answer was “Cary Grant.” And so, as you might guess, as soon as I landed on any pink square, I yelled “CARY GRANT!”
Sometimes Christians answer non-trivial questions in much the same way. I’m tempted to say it has something to do with the current obsession with gospel-centeredness, but it is likely an older problem than that. Still, our answer to every question these days tends to be “grace,” and that just doesn’t always make sense:
Holding Communion Together: The Reformed Baptists: Fifty Years, United and Divided is entering the final stages of publication. Initially we had hoped to have it in print during the last week of March; all the requirements of getting such a complex book into print have required us to push back that self-imposed deadline. We now expect to be in print by early May.
Much, but not all, of the content of this book was initially published on this blog. As we polish the final product, however, we do not wish to continually re-publish each installment of the “Reflections on Reformed Baptist History” posts. Already this has caused us some confusion internally. In keeping with the standard procedure for books, we are removing most of the blogs that will become part of the book that is still being completed. All of the material from that series, together with new chapters and a number of critical appendices, will be available in the forthcoming book. We are leaving two chapters from the upcoming book to give a “taste” for those who desire more.
We are just a few weeks out from the scheduled release of Holding Communion Together, the book version of the Reflections on Reformed Baptist History series which Pastor David Dykstra and I first presented on this blog. As was announced earlier, the final version has been edited and smoothed out in places and will contain a new introduction, a foreword from Pastor Earl Blackburn, and three entirely new chapters at the end. Additionally, a number of appendices will provide critical papers and documents.
As we approach the release of this book, Pastor Dykstra suggested that I might want to put together a chronicle of the writing of the book. The project reached its current format through a rather unusual process, and we thought it might be beneficial to those interested in Reformed Baptist history to see how we did our work. Furthermore, since the project has not been without controversy, we hope to put to rest a number of misunderstandings and misconceptions about what we have done and why.
It’s Sunday morning in America, and probably many of my readers will soon be getting their kids ready for a morning at church. Perhaps you’ll spend a few moments going over a memory verse one last time. Perhaps you’ll look forward to getting a paper from Sunday School so you know what your kids learned today. Or maybe you go to a church where your kids will actually spend the entire morning in children’s church.
I am no advocate of the full-throttle family-integrated approach, but I have been concerned by what is now the well-established trend of separate worship for kids. Parents accept the idea that children’s ministries do a better job than church of introducing their kids to Jesus. What they fail to ask themselves is just who this “Jesus” is that their kids will meet.