Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An excellent excerpt from John MacArthur's new book

Over at the Shepherd's Fellowship blog, Pastor John MacArthur has posted an excellent excerpt from his latest book, which addresses the Zeitgeist in the area of "niceness". Was Jesus always "nice"? Check it out.

Here it an excerpt:

Jesus’ compassion is certainly evident in two facts that bracket this declamation. First, Luke says that as He drew near the city and observed its full panorama for this final time, He paused and wept over it (Luke 19:41-44). And second, Matthew records a similar lament at the end of the seven woes (23:37). So we can be absolutely certain that as Jesus delivered this diatribe, His heart was full of compassion.

Yet that compassion is directed at the victims of the false teaching, not the false teachers themselves. There is no hint of sympathy, no proposal of clemency, no trace of kindness, no effort on Jesus’ part to be “nice” toward the Pharisees. Indeed, with these words Jesus formally and resoundingly pronounced their doom and then held them up publicly as a warning to others.

This is the polar opposite of any invitation to dialogue. He doesn’t say, “They’re basically good guys. They have pious intentions. They have some valid spiritual insights. Let’s have a conversation with them.” Instead, He says, “Keep your distance. Be on guard against their lifestyle and their influence. Follow them, and you are headed for the same condemnation they are.”

This approach would surely have earned Jesus a resounding outpouring of loud disapproval from today’s guardians of evangelical protocol. In fact, His approach to the Pharisees utterly debunks the cardinal points of conventional wisdom among modern and post-modern evangelicals — the neoevangelical fondness for eternal collegiality, and the Emerging infatuation with engaging all points of view in endless conversation. By today’s standards, Jesus’ words about the Pharisees and His treatement of them are breathtakingly severe.

(Bold added)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CREDO500 article on the PD paradigm

I have just came back from a good holiday. In my absence, Pastor Jonah has been taking care of the CREDO 500 blog conference. Yesterday saw the publishing of my CREDO500 article on the Purpose Driven paradigm, which is a more thought-out article on the entire PD paradigm than my book (being after all written this year instead of 2006). The article can be found here. An excerpt:

The center of Christianity is the person of Jesus Christ, and His Gospel by which we are being saved. Apart from Christ, there is nothing but darkness and death. In Him we have life (Jn. 6:35) and hope (Mt. 12:21; Rom. 5:2) and peace (Jn. 14:27). As wicked sinners who are by nature justly under the wrath of God (Jn. 3:36; Rom. 1:18, 3:10-18), we have now been justified (Rom. 5:1) and changed by the Holy Spirit who now resides in us (2 Cor. 3:18). Such love as this should birth in us gratefulness and love unto our Lord, that Christ “may dwell in [our] hearts through faith”, that we “being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-19). Amen.

In recent times, a new wave has swept up upon our shores. From the pen of Evangelical pastor Rick Warren has come the best-selling books The Purpose Driven Church [1] and The Purpose Driven Life [2]. Together with readily available resources from pastors.com, Pastor Rick Warren has created a movement around the world in an attempt to grow the Church and impact the world for Christ. Serving to promote this movement are the teachings and programs (such as the 40 Days of Purpose, the 40 Days of Community, and the 40 Days of Vision) from Warren, Saddleback Church and her associates, which together promote a ministry paradigm hereby entitled the Purpose Driven paradigm. Attempting to so impact the world, Warren has even engaged in a crusade to fight what he calls the ‘Global Giants’, as outlined in his P.E.A.C.E. plan [3].

Within Evangelicalism, many churches have for various reasons embraced in part or the whole of the Purpose Driven paradigm within the life of the Church. As Christians, we are to evaluate everything according to the Word of God (Acts 17: 11-12; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Jn. 4:1), so how does this paradigm measure up to Scripture? More importantly, since Christianity is about Christ and the Gospel, how does the Purpose Driven paradigm measure up to Scripture in this respect?

[more]

Pastor Peter Wong, a graduate from London Reformed Baptist Seminary, who is currently a minister of Brunei Reformed Baptist Churh, has reviewed my paper and his response can be seen here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The illogicity of those who promote the WMO

I am currently reading a book by David H. J. Gay entitled Particular Redemption and the Free Offer (Biggleswade, UK: Brachus,20008), a book written to promote the theory of the Well-Meant Offer, or the Neo-Amyraldian position that God desires the salvation of ALL MEN. I guess I shouldn't be expecting much in terms of logical consistency, but this eats the cake.

In attempting to refute the "Owenite" position of "sufficient for all because of the worth of Christ's person", but "efficient only for the elect" (of which I hold to a variation), Gay states:

Of course, as I have noted, the work of Christ is of infinite worth, and of course he is an all-sufficient Savior — a perfect Redeemer for all the elect, for all their sins, for ever. But this does not mean we can — or should — speculate about its 'sufficiency for all'. In fact, I repeat, however fine it sounds, the concept is, in the end, illogical and meaningless (p. 101)

Gay might as well says that he believes that the sky is blue and not blue at the same time in the same place. Such illogicity shows the utter intellectual bankruptcy of the position of the Well-Meant Offer men.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Introduction to the CREDO 500 blog conference

The CREDO 500 blog conference is just days away now. My co-organizer and the founder of this conference Jonah Tang has written a short succinct introduction to this upcoming two months blog conference, which can be read here.

For those of us who are either not fluent enough in Chinese, those who prefer to read it in English, and those who do not read Chinese, I have spend some time translating the text, as we wish to make this conference by and large available to non-Chinese speakers as well. Without further to do, here is my translation, which is also posted on the blog site itself here:


INTRODUCTION:

Knowing and glorifying God, whom John Calvin served

by Jonah Tang

trans. by Daniel Chew

Name and beginning

On July the 10th 2009, Christians in the Reformed tradition around the world gathered in the city of Geneva, Switzerland, to commemorate the 500th anniversary (1509-2009) of the birth of the French Reformer John Calvin, breathing new life into the embers in this once thriving spiritual center of the Reformation. Although not everyone had the opportunity to attend this ceremony, churches around the world have resounded with various events to be held in remembrance of this iconic figure of the Reformation era.

The CREDO 500 blog conference is initiated by this present author and co-organized together with brother Daniel Chew, with Dr. Stephen Chan (陈佐人), Dr. Zhi Yong Wang (王志勇) and Dr. Keng Ann Lee (李健安) graciously agreeing to be the project’s guides and advisers. On the one hand, the weak faith of many suffer from the onslaught of postmodernism and the rapid growth of all manner of heresies, while on the other, the 21st century is witnessing the rapid increase in the Church as many ethnic Chinese are coming to the Lord . In order to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas in light of these facts, and in the hope of continuing the proclamation and development of Calvinist theology and the rich heritage of the Reformed tradition, this conference has been organized.

The original meaning of the word in the Latin, “Credo”, is “I believe”. “CREDO 500” get its meaning from the first five centuries of the early church, linked together with the Reformation and Post-Reformation era of the recent five centuries to make up a pair of two five centuries of faith, which can be termed as the “ecumenical Reformed faith and tradition”. At this blog, the CREDO motif is developed further as the acronym for “Chinese Reformed Evangelical Discussion Online”, with the goal of planting the Reformed faith in the new generation of Chinese Evangelicals. It is hoped that the strict confessionalism and godly piety of the 16th and 17th century Reformers and the English Puritans, together with the faithful witness of the Apostles and the believers of all ages, will find new adherents. Utilizing the ability of the Internet to flatten the world, believers are enabled to interact and learn together this Christian historical orthodox faith. For unless we know and understand the Reformation and its necessity and beginning, we will never be able to be one substantive household of faith founded on the Truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Objective and Purpose

This author strongly believes that the influence of Calvin did not end with the Modern and Western world, but continues to impact and transform the Post-modern and Chinese-speaking world. We are honored to be able to invite Christians around the world from different denominations and backgrounds: be they scholars, pastors, researchers and theologians, to contribute to this blog conference and engage in interaction and mutual guidance on various technical topics. The conference would be done in the following format: Every other day a paper would be uploaded together with its attendant response, after which all and sundry are invited to actively participate in the discussions on that paper. All are invited to affirm, ask for further clarification or suggest points for more thought and reflection, with regards to the content and manner of writing of any of the papers. We eagerly anticipate creative engagements and constructive responses, to aid the authors in correcting and improving their articles.

In principle, all discussions are to be purely factual and objective. However, all attendees are to abide by the proper attitude of glorifying God. In expressing one’s thoughts and opinions, one is not to compromise on the foundational truths, but also to respect differences of opinions over minor points of doctrine. In all things, we are to be loving and speak words of edification to build up others. In this light, this author desires and exhorts the practice of the following beliefs and principles of Reformed orthodoxy: 1) To be based on the Bible, 2) To be Christ-centered, 3) with the sole aim of glorifying the triune God, 4) to be done for the good of the Church. These are also the desired result for the conference: that through studying the legacy of John Calvin, we may glorify God, whom Calvin served.

The theme of this blog conference is “Calvin to the modern Chinese Churches” 「从加尔文看今日华人教会」. We have collected a total of 20 papers to be spit into two sections, the first being “The legacy of Reformed Theology” and the second being “The Reformation and John Calvin”. Lord willing, we plan to publish the results of this conference in a volume, which is to be separately published in English and Chinese. Listed below in the next section are the short biographies of the authors and reviewers of the papers for this conference.

Lastly, we would like to express our appreciation to all who have contributed to this conference in one way or another. We look forward to this historical blog conference, and hope it will provoke thought to edify the Chinese churches, to bring about a unity between the intellect and the spirit, and to narrow the distance we have from our Reformed forefathers such that we are connected to our past. Amen.

[NOTE: I have not included the bio in this post because I have not translated them. I will include that in a later post]