By In Family and Children, Worship

10 Ways to Keep Easter this Easter Season!

Surrender-Surrender-To-Chance-Thomas_Coles-The_Picnic-Wikipedia
Is Easter over?

Theologically, we know that the earthquake of Easter will reverberate until the Second Coming of Messiah. And liturgically, Easter is in no way over. In fact, Easter has just begun. The joy of Easter carries on until June 3rd, which means we still have 49 days of Eastertide. Easter is far from over and there is much more rejoicing to do in the next seven weeks.

The difficulty for many of us is keeping this Easter enthusiasm for such a lengthy period. The reason many evangelicals are ready to get to the next thing is because they lack a sense of liturgical rhythm. Lent took us through a 40-day journey, but the Easter joy takes us through a 50-day journey. Easter is superior to Lent not only in length of days but also in the quality of its mood. Lent prepares us to a journey towards Calvary, while Easter takes us through a victory march. Through Easter, we are reminded to put away our sadness and embrace the heavenly trumpet sound to all the corners of the earth. “He is risen!, He is risen!, He is risen!” The devil trembles, the enemies fear, the forces of evil shake, the sound of sin is silenced when death was defeated.

What does this mean? It means we must be busy in the business of celebrating. For dads and moms, young and old, we have much to do to preserve and pervade this season with jubilance. I want to offer ten ways we can do that in the remaining 49 days of Easter. a (more…)

  1. I unashamedly used some of the options from this great resource  (back)

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By In Theology

Bible Study With The Church Fathers

Church Fathers Bible App Catena

An App for the Church Fathers

I recently downloaded a new Bible study tool with an emphasis on the Church Fathers. It is called Catena and it lays out interlinear commentary from the Church Fathers in a Bible app. A double-tap on a particular verse pulls up related content by Church Fathers like St. John Chrysostom and St. Cyril of Alexandria. And if you aren’t familiar with a particular author, clicking on his name reveals his wikipedia page. The app describes itself as, “a collection of commentaries on the Bible from the early Church Fathers. With 35,000+ ancient commentaries, and growing, the goal is to provide the most insight possible into the Word of God.” Available for iOS and Android here.

The Hermeneutic of the Church Fathers

In 2015, Pr. Uri Brito penned an article called “Interpretive Maximalism and James B. Jordan” which came to mind as I was using this new app. In that article, a quote from Jordan explains that the commentary offered by the Church Fathers was not always limited to a strict grammatico-historical method of interpretation. Using an app like Catena could aid the modern bible student is exposing him to historical insights or alternate readings of familiar texts. According to Brito, Jordan sees the grammatico-historical interpretation to be valid, but incomplete without the aid of a rich biblical theology that also includes narrative and symbols.James B. Jordan

In a culture thirsty for an ancient faith, Reformed leaders would do well to once again reclaim the Church Fathers as their own heritage. As David Steinmetz of Duke Divinity School once noted in Christianity Today, “The Reformation is an argument not just about the Bible but about the early Christian fathers, whom the Protestants wanted to claim.” Even in their great diversity, the Church Fathers offer a consistent emphasis on the importance of personal holiness, fidelity to the church, and the importance of the scriptures to guide believers. Are the fathers important to Reformation theology? A quick glance at the number of references to Church Fathers in Calvin’s Institutes says yes.

Church Fathers in Their Context

Of Course, the best practice is reading the fathers directly and in the context of the entire work and historical period. Catena could be a tool to whet your appetite for the patristic and historical commentaries. I was first introduced to the work of St. Athanasius through the snippets introduced in David Chilton’s Paradise Restored. I then stumbled through the patristic masterpiece “On the Incarnation of the Wordwith a bit of encouragement from a preface by C.S. Lewis.

A word of warning is also due. The Christian faith did not climax at Nicaea (in the same way it’s zenith is not Westminster) and our patristic authors do not claim the final word on Biblical interpretation. As James B. Jordan puts it, “When we see that God’s history will span thousands of generations, we see how silly it is to assume that history ended in the early centuries, everything was settled, and no significant progress remains to be made.” a

  1. Biblical Horizons Newsletter, No. 62: Thinking About Church History  (back)

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By In Worship

What is Maundy Thursday?

“Maundy” Thursday comes from the Latin Mandatum. 

The word comes from Jesus’ command on the Last Supper to love one another just as He loved them (Jn. 13). The message of love is central to the Gospel message. Some Evangelicals are all too quick to set the topic of love aside because it draws our attention away from the more important doctrinal disputes and discussions. Yet Paul and our blessed Lord keep bringing us back to this theme of love. God is love. No, love is not God, but it is very much a foundational aspect of all His actions toward us in Christ Jesus.

Maundy Thursday then becomes a special historical reminder that we are called to be a people of love. In I Corinthians 13, Paul said that if love is absent, our actions become like clanging cymbals. The very core of Paul’s exhortation to love occurred in the midst of a dying Church, namely the Corinthian Church. Paul’s application then is an ecclesiastical command. In the same manner, our blessed Lord on the night in which he was betrayed– by that unclean man called Judas– called us to a greater love ethic as a people. It was not an ethic foreign to our Lord. What Jesus commands is first and foremost something he has experienced and displayed already. To a greater extent, our Lord proves that love in a cross of hate. By sacrificing Himself on that cruel tree He turned the symbol of hate into one of the most beloved symbols in the Christian life.

It is then very appropriate that our Lord would command us to love as a response to the Last Supper. This is the case because in the Supper we are being re-oriented in our affections for one another. The Supper is a meal of love and Jesus would transform that meal in His resurrection. He would glorify love for His new disciples. He would become Himself the manna from heaven that would bring joy to this newly created community.

Love is most clearly displayed and obeyed in this new fellowship of disciples we call the Church. This is why Maundy Thursday was a significant historical event. It was not just a didactic lesson for the disciples, it was also a meal that sealed the theme of love for this new community that would emerge from the darkness of the tomb.

Originally published at Resurrectio et Vita.

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By In Family and Children

Having fun with little children

A guest post by Nicole Jeffery.

I was recently asked by a friend what I filled my days with when my kids were small. Like many other mums, she’s convinced that she’s in the best position to raise her daughter ‘in the discipline and instruction of the Lord’. But being at home all day long with tiny kids can be a bit of a crunch in the gears when you’ve been used to pursuing a career elsewhere. And when all those new mums you’ve been getting to know start cheerily heading back to the office and you’re left all alone in the park with your baby, life can feel pretty directionless. Just a single day can feel long and empty and, if we’re honest, a curious mixture of dull and stressful.

My friend’s question got me thinking, so I started digging back into some of my old notes, books and photos.  What follows is a fairly random selection of some of the things I did with our kids in those precious early years. As a family we certainly didn’t get everything right. And even the things that worked out well for us may not all suit you. Some may be impractical where you live or with your particular children. But hopefully they will encourage and inspire you to make the best use of these fleeting early years.

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By In Theology

Biblicism: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

If the modern scholarship is to be believed, Biblicism has died. It has been buried and never shall rise again. In Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible, he argues that Biblicism is not truly an evangelical reading of Scripture. Smith asserts that we cannot expect the Bible to be something it was not intended to be. He defines Biblicism as “A theory about the Bible that emphasizes together its exclusive authority…self-evident meaning, and universal applicability.”

According to Smith, you cannot make coherent statements about texts since this process produces variant forms of interpretations. Therefore, divergence in interpretation and applicability disprove the evangelical assertion that the Bible is true and authority.

Author Rachel Held Evans summarizes Biblicism as “perhaps best reflected in the old adage, ‘God said it, I believe it, that settles it.’” But is this Biblicism? Or is it just another modern attempt to deviate from the orthodox claim to Biblical authority? We ought to be aware of the isms, but has Biblicism been properly understood or too easily dismissed?

Professor John Frame, a philosopher and theologian, argues for a form of Biblicism that avoids the simplification of Smith and Evans. Frame elevates the theological discourse to a more nuanced conversation in his essay, In Defense of Something Close to Biblicism. He concludes:

“Scripture, therefore, must be primary in relation to history, sociology, or any other science. It is Scripture that supplies the norms of these sciences and which governs their   proper starting points, methods, and conclusions.”

While the Bible may suffer at the hands of leaders and laity, proper Biblicism establishes the primacy of the Bible in relation to all other endeavors. Divergence in views will continue until the Second Coming, but only Biblicism properly understood can provide comfort to the Christian interpreter of the first century and today. God has unmistakably spoken in His revelation and what He says is the basis for all reality.

Three Kinds of Biblicisms

Biblicism needs to be distinguished accurately. It seems wise to make a distinction between three forms of Biblicism. Here is the basic outline and perhaps it may be expanded in another article. I propose three types of Biblicism within evangelical theology: 1) Fundamentalist Biblicism (FB), 2) Pietistic Biblicism (PB), and 3) Ecclesiastical Biblicism (EB). (more…)

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By In Interviews

Christians and the Movies: Interview with Brian Godawa from 2009

In 2009, Pastor Brito and Jarrod Richey interviewed Hollywood screenwriter, Brian Godawa. While the audio quality of the first 15 minutes is quite poor, the final 30 minutes are quite good and informative. Buy Brian’s book.

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By In Politics

Engaging the University with a Doubleshot of Bavinck(s)

bavink

Guest Post By Tyler Helfers

One of my passions in serving as a campus minister is to introduce our students and faculty to dead, Dutch theologians. Perhaps it is an obligation because I serve in the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), and study at Calvin Theological Seminary. However, I tend to think it is because of the tremendous gift these men are to the Church, and how, even today, their works remain relevant to faith and practice in our academic setting.

While I could talk of Vos, Kuyper, Schilder, Dooyeweerd, Van Til, Berkouwer, or Ridderbos, I find myself drawing most often on two others: Herman Bavinck and J.H. Bavinck. In a society that champions the sovereignty of self, and increasingly convinced that religion is irrelevant to the common way of lifea, the works of both Bavincks—a balance of cultural nous and confessional fidelity, missional zeal and Kingdom vision—serve as a blessing and bright hope for the future of both the church and wider culture.

Nature and Grace

At the heart of Herman Bavinck’s theology is the principle that “grace restores nature.” According to Bavinck, the religious antithesis should be between grace and sin, not between grace and nature, as posited by the dualistic approaches of both Roman Catholicism and the Anabaptists.b Bavinck writes:

Grace restores nature and takes it to its highest pinnacle…The re-creation is not a second, new creation. It does not add to existence any new creatures or introduce any new substance into it, but it is truly “re-formation.” In this process the working of grace extends as far as the power of sin.c

The implications of this are profound and all encompassing. Not only are fallen human beings reconciled to God and restored to fellowship with Him, but also enabled by the Holy Spirit to once again live out their created purpose (vocation). However, the re-forming effects of grace are also extended to the whole of nature, including the world of culture, society, and politics.d

As it relates to campus ministry, the blessing of this principle is twofold. First, it guards against the twin dangers of separatism and secularism. Much of what is encompassed under the banner of “campus ministry” is nothing more than an Anabaptist separatism that Bavinck describes as “[only] rescuing and snatching of individuals out of the world which lies in wickedness; never a methodical, organic reformation of the whole, of the cosmos, of the nation and country.e” Thus, ministries engage primarily in evangelism, Bible study, and providing a sub-culture for Christian students (as opposed to a holistic approach to discipleship and working for reformation of the broader campus culture). On the other hand, the principle thwarts the efforts of secularism to relegate faith in general, and the work of Christ in particular, to private life and the heart. As a result of the way in which God is at work, faith cannot help but find expression in the public square, and do so in ongoing, relevant ways that point to Christ and the Kingdom.

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  1. a) Christopher Dawson, Religion and World History: A Selection from the Works of Christopher (University of California: Image Books, 1975), 257. He goes on to explain that the “process of secularisation arises not from the loss of faith but from the loss of social interest in the world of faith. It begins the moment men feel that religion is irrelevant to the common way of life and that society as such has nothing to do with the truths of faith.”  (back)
  2. b) Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Abr. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 82.  (back)
  3. c) Ibid, 498.  (back)
  4. d)Ibid, 83.  (back)
  5. e) Jan Veenhof, “Nature and Grace in Bavinck,” Pro Rege 34, no. 4, (June 2006), p. 17.  (back)

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