Other places I blog




web stats

Follow Me on Twitter

I must say ... 

... when I heard that Rick Warren had been invited to the Desiring God Conference, I was surprised.  I saw this video clip where John Piper explains his reasons for doing so.

The way Mr. Piper sees Mr. Warren seems to contradict what I have seen of Warren over the years.  But I don't know either of the men, so I can't be certain of much.

However, I would like to see Rick Warren sit on "Larry King Live" and share with King the things he shared with Piper.  Piper says that Warren admits that people are going to hell.  I want to see a video clip of Warren on Larry King Live where Warren admits to that.

Here is the video clip of Piper:



The Puritan Conscience

The Puritan Conscience is the topic of the seventh chapter of Packer's A Quest for Godliness.  It would be the Puritan conscience, I think, that generates the most negative thought with regard to them, for their highly developed consciences were the target for a label such as "legalist."   It may have seemed like the case, but there is more to the story.

The conscience, to the Puritan, was a court.  It was there to present evidence, witness, judgment, and all that is associated with our understanding of a court.  The conscience was the court in which God's justifying sentence was spoken; it was a rational faculty, a power of self-knowledge and judgment.  Packer quotes three Puritans, Richard Sibbes, John Bunyan, and William Fenner in support of this analogy.  Sibbes says:

God hath set and planted in man this court of conscience, and it is God's hall, as it were where he keeps his first judgment ... his assizes.  And conscience doth all the parts.  It registereth, it accuseth, it judgeth, it executes, it doth all.

Packer then goes on to show how the Puritan conscience relates to other crucial topics on which the Puritans dwelt: Scripture, personal religion, and preaching.  Scripture was to inform and instruct the conscience, and it was also to enlighten it.  The conscience was there to discern the Law of God.  Godliness was a matter of conscience, and in the personal life of the individual, the emphasis was on keeping a good conscience.   In the realm of preachng, the purpose was to "rip up" the conscience of men.  Preaching was meant to prod the individual to see himself as God saw him.  Packer says:

One mark of a 'spiritual,' 'powerful' preacher, in the Puritan estimation, was the closeness and faithfulness of application whereby he would 'rip up' men's consciences and make them face themselves as God saw them.  The Puritans knew that sinful men are slow to apply truth to themselves, quick though they may be to see how it bears on other.  Hence unapplied general statement of evangelical truth were unlikely to do much good.  Therefore (said the Puritans) the preacher must see it as an essential part of his job to work out applications in detail, leading the minds of his hearers step by step down those avenues of practical syllogisms which will bring the word right home to their hearts, to do its judging, wounding, healing, comforting, and guiding work.

I don't think it's popular today for preaching to "rip up" men's souls, at least not once the individual has become born again.  It's okay to "rip up" his soul to see him be regenerated, but once that occurs, it seems more of a popular thing to soothe his soul and tell him that he's "okay."  Applications abound, but often, they are applications of things we can "do" in order to feel better rather than applications which point out error.

Packer spends some time evaluating the belief that the Puritans were too introspective with regard to their consciences, that the were too concerned with the minutae of the Christian life, thus rendering themselves legalistic.  He does this by evaluting the situation where the Puritan pastors would not take the oath supporting The Act of Uniformity.  Packer points out that there are two fundamental principles with regard to the Puritan conscience, first that no known truth must be compromised, and second, that no avoidable sin must be committed no matter how great the good the result of the compromise.  This was the fiercely held belief of the Puritans, and if taking the oath and supporting th Act of Uniformity violated those principles, the Puritans would have not had a good conscience. Packer comments that finely tuned conciences are necessary in the days of compromise.  What may seem like nitpicking to us was a foundation that the Puritans lived and died with.


At the heart of murder

In Studies on the Sermon on the Mount, Lloyd-Jones begins a series of chapters that focus on material starting at Matthew 5:21.  Here, he comments on a number of  statements Jesus makes that begin with the phrase, "You have heard it said..."   Jesus then goes on to talk about how the Pharisees had taught the law as opposed to what the law ultimately meant.  Lloyd-Jones emphasizes that Jesus is not bringing in a new law; the Pharisees had taken the law and given it their own spin, suited to their own interpretation.   Jesus didn't come to bring in a new law; he came to fulfil what it ultimately meant.

The first of the commandments that Jesus discusses is the injunction not to kill.  Lloyd-Jones points out two important principles in what Jesus was teaching.  First,  what matters is not merely the letter of the law, but also the spirit.  Secondly, our attitude is to be not merely negative, but positive.  In this, he means that obedience to the law was not found in simply avoiding what is bad, but seeking the good.

Lloyd-Jones discusses the issue of having contempt for people.  We are not to murder, and neither are we to bear anger toward our brother.  Whoever is angry with his brother without cause is liable to judgment (5:22).  In this context, Lloyd-Jones says:

... we must never even be guilty of expressions of contempt ... we are remarkably like the Pharisees and scribes in the way we talk about murder, robbery, and drunkenness and certain particular sins.  But our Lord always includes evil thoughts with murders, and such things as strife, enmnity, deceit and many other things which we do not regard as being such terrible, foul sins.  And, obviously, the moment we stop to think about it, and to analyze the position, we see how perfectly true it is.  Contempt, a feeling of scorn and derision, is the very spirit that ultimately leads to murder.  We may have various reasons for not allowing it to be expressed in actual committal of murder.  But, alas, we have often murdered one another in mind and heart and thought, have we not ... Killing does not mean only destroying life physically, it means still more trying to destroy the spirit and the soul, destroying the person in any shape or form.

Quite convicting, no?  Even more convicting are Lloyd-Jones firm exhortations to put aside anger against our brother before we even think of approaching the Lord.


Heart Aflame - March 28, 2010

Psalm 25:4-5

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths.  The prayer which David offers up here, is to this effect:  Lord, keep your servant in the firm persuasion of your promises and do not let him turn aside to the right hand or to the left.  When our minds are thus composed to patience, we undertake nothing rashly or by improper means, but depend wholly upon the providence of God.  Accordingly, in this place David desires not merely to be directed by the Spirit of God, lest he should err from the right way, but also that God would clearly manifest to him his truth and faithfulness in the promises of his word, that he might live in peace before him, and be free from all impatience.

In the language of the Psalmist there is an allusion to those sudden and irregular emotions which arise in our minds when we are tossed by adversity, and by which we are precipitated into the devious and deceitful paths of error, till they are in due time subdued or allayed by the word of God.  Although he frequently repeats the same thing, asking that God would make him to know his ways, and teach him in them, and lead him in his truth, there is no redundancy in these forms of speech.  Our adversities are often like mists which darken the eyes; and every one knows from his own experience how difficult a thing it is, while these clouds of darkness continue, to discern in what way we ought to walk.  But if David, so distinguished a prophet and endued with so much wisdom, stood in need of divine instruction, what shall become of us if, in our affliction, God dispel not from our minds those clouds of darkness which prevent us from seeing his light?  As often, then, as any temptation may assail us, we ought always to pray that God wold make the light of his truth to shine upon us, lest by having recourse to sinful deices, we should go astray, and wander into devious and forbidden paths.

For you are the God of my salvation.  By calling God the God of his salvation, he does so in order to strengthen his hope in God for the future, from a consideration of the benefits which he had alredy received from him; and then he repeats the testimony of his confidence towards God.


Warfield Wednesday

In 2005, I read a book called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, by Mark Noll.  In that volume, the name B.B. Warfield was mentioned, and that was the first time I had ever heard of him.  At that time, I also subscribed to the magazine TableTalk.  There was an issue that dealt with B.B. Warfield, and in 2005, I wrote about it on my blog.  It was that article that really spurred my interest in Warfield.  While I was quite amazed at the way he wrote and the depth of his thought, it was his personal life that really spoke to me.  That same year, for Christmas, my husband bought me the complete works of Warfield.

This is a post from my old blog, edited slightly from the original:

The April 2005 issue of Table Talk focuses on apologist and theologian B.B. Warfield (1851-1921). I really had not heard much about this man until  I read The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Dr. Mark Noll. The articles in the April 2005 issue of Table Talk tell a lot about the man.

He was educated at College of New Jersey, which later became Princeton University. He was an outstanding student, excelling in mathematics and science. He planned on pursuing a career in science, but eventually decided on the ministry because: “I think that in the work of the ministry I can do the most to repay the Lord for what he has done for me.”

He was a very prolific writer, reputed to have been a writer on par with men such as Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and Barth.

But that is not what I found most extraordinary about Mr. Warfield. It was his commitment to his wife that really says something about the man. On a trip to Europe, Mrs. Warfield suffered a trauma to her nervous system and was ill for the majority of her married life. According to TableTalk:

Dr. Warfield devoted his life to her care, seldom traveling far from her, following the marriage vows he had taken with her with unusual care and faithfulness. They were never able to have children, and she could never travel or move about very much.

….he stayed close to his wife, who was often confined to bed. He seldom was away from her side for more than two hours. He set aside time to read to her every day. His colleague on the faculty, O.T. Allis, remembered: “I used to see them walking together and the gentleness of his manner was striking proof of the loving care with which he surrounded her.”

In this sense, Warfield’s life was a classic. He devoted himself to his primary responsibility to care for his wife. He submitted to the trials God had put before him.

Today, a scholar of Dr. Warfield’s stature would have a literary agent, and would have tours to promote his books. He would present at academic symposiums, sit on councils and boards. He would perhaps have a column in a Christian periodical, or his own web-site. He would be asked to visit CNN during times of social crisis to lend a “Christian perspective.” Not so for Dr. Warfield. He was a man devoted to his wife, to fulfilling his calling as her husband. This is the kind of man whom I would love to have as an example for my sons. Today, would the lure of fame and popularity lead a man like Dr. Warfield to find a way to "have it all?"

The teachers and ministers who we will remember may be intellectual giants. They may utter profound words from the pulpit and cause us to probe the depths of our own thinking. Or not. They may be the ones who demonstrate Christ-likeness in action. Those are the ones who I will remember most.