Chantry at the 1966 Pastor’s Conference
It came to my attention over the weekend that my father’s sermon from the 1966 Pastors’ Conference in Carlisle, PA has been going the rounds on the internet. That conference was the first formal gathering of Reformed Baptists, and it was also the scene of earliest efforts to establish a Reformed Baptist association. Those efforts bore fruit two years later in the establishment of the RBA – forerunner to RBMS and ultimately to ARBCA.
The subject of the address – Christian Unity – has obvious implications for the project to build a confessional and associational movement among Reformed Baptists. As such, I thought it worthwhile to have a listen myself. I have never heard one of my father’s sermons from so early on; what struck me most was the presence of certain themes which I have heard from him all my life and continue to hear today. Continue reading
Sorry, John, but I had to do it.
In an excellent post in which he admits that he’s a recovering TGC fanboy, Justin Bullington put the following words into the mouth of an imaginary objector to his criticisms: “Imagine if TGC didn’t exist!”
So I did. Continue reading
Disheartened and Sad
This week I had the opportunity to preach on the story of the Rich Young Ruler from Mark’s gospel. Each gospel includes different details, and one in Mark struck me in particular. It is a brief story; here it is in its entirety:
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22, ESV)
No Harm, No Foul?
Last Saturday evening, in the rematch of all rematches here in the Badger state, the Wisconsin basketball team played and beat Kentucky in the national semifinal. The game was exciting and entertaining, but it was also a clinic in awful officiating. Chris Chase of USA Today rightly called it “the crescendo of awful tournament officiating.” Personally, I find it fascinating that a game could be so badly called in spite of extensive replay review. Yet is was:
Late in the second half, Kentucky’s Josh Lyles slapped Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser in the jaw, knocking him to the floor. Now I’m no expert, but I think that’s against the rules in basketball. The game was delayed for several minutes while the officials presumably watched multiple angles of the slap, after which they inexplicably called “no foul” and play resumed. Continue reading
It may be quite easily demonstrated that Christians and unbelievers alike recognize the need for certain days to be special. Call it a need to mark time or to break up the monotony if you wish. Is it not equally reasonable – if we start where we should in special revelation – that God, who made the Sabbath holy as soon as he had made man – wrote onto our hearts the need to observe one day in seven as holy to him? And that we, no matter how much we have suppressed that law by non-observance, still bear traces of it in our hearts?
In fact, the argument from conscience, or from the absence of guilt, fails entirely to contradict the Reformed position on law, and specifically on Sabbath. We’re going to need another theory to explain the shamelessness with which the world and even the church ignores the Sabbath. Continue reading
I know you read this in Junior High; are you honestly telling me you thought Sabbath was never a matter of public conscience?
We’ve been addressing the Reformed view of the law this week, particularly as it relates to the issue of Sabbath and the conscience of men. It has been suggested that the absence of any commonly felt guilt over the Sabbath proves that the commandment was never moral. Yesterday I attempted to demonstrate that this is a dangerous way to define morality. Today we will investigate whether the premise is even true. Does the conscience tell us that Sabbath-breaking is wrong?
If your awareness of Christian practice goes back more than one generation, you’ll have to admit that the Sabbath once pricked the conscience of men. We are all familiar with the now-despised “blue laws” which prohibited certain activities on Sunday. Yes, America was once a place in which work on Sunday was not only uncommon, but illegal. Did such a practice have any relationship to the conscience? Continue reading
The Antinomian Sabbath
A small piece of the Reformed understanding of the law is that the conscience demonstrates the universality of God’s moral law. If that is so, antinomians ask why some commands – and specifically the Sabbath – are not communicated in this way. Men who are horrified at the thought of murder feel no pangs at all over Sabbath-breaking. Today I offer the first half of a response. Each of today’s steps helps to identify a problem with how the antinomian defines morality.
For make no mistake; I am convinced that this is what today’s antinomians have done: they have defined morality on the basis of what they feel is right. They don’t think they’ve done this, and they don’t like even being called antinomian. However, if a Christian has rejected the very structure of moral law by which God defines morality, what is he left with? Is there not some validity to the claim that such a person is defining right and wrong merely on the basis of his conscience?
But this is a dangerous way to construct our ethical system, for at least three reasons: Continue reading